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What “Thinking” about autism (or anything) is not

Yesterday’s post was just too depressing to contemplate and even more depressing to write. It was a total downer after seen the awesomeness that was John Oliver gloriously skewering America’s Quack Dr. Mehmet Oz. That’s why I think it would be good to finish this week on an amusing note. Well, it would be amusing if it weren’t for my knowledge that the woman who wrote the post I’m about to “analyze” has an autistic child and is subjecting that child to quackery. Actually, that’s true of pretty much every woman who blogs at the wretched hive of scum and autism biomed quackery where this post appeared.

Yes, I’m referring to The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (TMR), or, as I like to call it, The Not-So-Thinking Moms’ Revolution, an offshoot of that other wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery, Age of Autism whose ability to consistently write incredibly ignorant things about vaccines and autism is unrivaled. Basically, TMR is a wine loving, vaccine hating, coffee klatch of mommy warriors for whom the terms Dunning-Kruger effect and arrogance of ignorance were coined.

Perhaps the most amusing thing about TMR is how they love to capitalize the word “thinker,” thus referring to themselves as “Thinkers” with a capital T. By implication, their referring to themselves as “Thinkers” means that they think of the rest of us as not being Thinkers and thus being sheeple easily duped by the vaccine-pharma-chemical-GMO conspiracy to make every child in the world autistic in order to…well, they never quite say in order to what. Dominate the world? Profit? Be evil for the sake of being evil? A combination of the three? Who knows? It doesn’t really matter. The point is that the boozy, chattery, self-absorbed and arrogant members of TMR think that they are superior to you, the sheeple, because they Know. They Know that vaccines cause a autism and they Know how to cure it with all manner of biomed quackery. Why? Because they are Thinkers, of course! And you’re not!

Apparently, however, all that Thinking requires energy, as in energy healing for autism:

When I first heard that the Thinking Moms’ Revolution was putting together an eConference on Energy Healing, I did the Happy Dance! I was beyond excited that other moms out there were “out there” and exploring these incredible healing modalities for their children.

You see, my son is now almost 16, and I have been investigating and using various forms of energy healing and energy medicine for over a decade, and have felt pretty alone in my interests. While others on the autism journey were into medical testing and biomed (which is great), I became a Reiki Master, learned Reconnective Healing and Quantum Touch, used homeopathy, essential oils, and flower essences, used EAV (electroacupuncture) and muscle testing for diagnosing, and of course, I consulted with mediums to get answers from the spirit world to help my son.

Oh. My. God.

Is there a form of quackery this woman doesn’t believe in? I don’t see reflexology, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, and Ayurveda, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if our intrepid “Thinker” believed in all of these as well. Particularly disturbing to me personally is that this particular “Thinker” goes by the ‘nym “Oracle.” That’s way too close to “Orac” for comfort. In any case, Oracle is Laura Hirsch, who is described thusly:

Her first book was an autobiography about her experience of being a young widow, which led to her investigation of mediumship as a therapeutic avenue for grief. She remarried and had two sons, the older one diagnosed at age three with regressive autism. Her love and devotion to her son led her back to mediumship for answers from her loved ones in spirit and others on how to heal her son. Working with a psychic medium and his wife, a spirit artist, they extended an open invitation to the spirit world to help solve the autism puzzle. Her third book, The Other Side of Autism: Famous Spirits Unveil Regressive Autism’s Causes and Remedies is the culmination of their sessions. She is also a Non-GMO advocate and is featured in the documentary Genetic Roulette in the autism segment. Her website is The Other Side of Autism.

On the TMR website, there is a video of an interview of Hirsch by one of the “Thinkers” that’s painful to watch. She describes how she relied on the husband-wife team of Michael & Marti Parry. Michael’s the psychic medium, and Marti is the psychic artist, whatever that is.) Actually, I learned what “spirit art” is from the couple’s website, namely the ability to “draw friends and loved ones that have passed away without ever having seen them, personally or through pictures, or even a description!” Sure thing, Marti.

In the video, we further learn from Hirsch that she learned from her psychic medium that her autistic son is allergic to wheat, among other things. Through her medium, she received wisdom from Bernard Rimland, who died in 2006, as well as “very famous scientists and politicians,” all, I assume, now dead. From these dead people, she learned that autism isn’t caused by just one thing. In other words, the spirits told her that it’s “not just vaccines” although vaccines are definitely a contributing factor. She also learned that it’s diet, particularly GMOs, and radiation. She then relates the story of having a session before Fukushima happened in which her medium drew a picture of a nuclear reactor with a crack in it and predicted a nuclear disaster of some kind. In any case, our intrepidly ignorant Ms. Hirsch goes on to blather how radiation can cause cancer and damage DNA; so of course it must be able to cause autism as well.

The spirits also apparently told Ms. Hirsch how to treat her son. One thing they told her was to eliminate the evil GMOs (of course). Another was iodine and supplements to “pull radiation out of his body.” A third thing was the quackery known as hyperbaric oxygen. She says that she did everything the spirits told her to do, and “it helped him.” Her son is now 15; so I have to wonder how much of this “improvement” Hirsch noted was confirmation bias and the normal improvement that happens in many autistic children just from normal development. (Remember, autism is a condition of developmental delay, not stasis.) The spirits also apparently told her that her son could definitely be “recovered.”

Oh, and in her post she also touts the Autism Healing Intention Program. I went over to the website and immediately wish I hadn’t, as it advertises a “remote energetic healing intention program for autism”:

Autism Pioneer Suzy Miller paired with Stanford Emeritus Professor William Tiller to explore new scientifically successful energetic healing approaches to autism. Dr. William Tiller, Professor Emeritus Stanford University, and featured physicist in the movie WHAT THE BLEEP, and former Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist, Suzy Miller, M.Ed., C.C.C. have taken their understanding of autism and paired it with the most cutting edge remote healing techniques to offer a service for parents and autistic children which is not locale-specific (i.e. can be administered remotely), is all natural with no supplements, and also offers a supportive online community of like-minded parents of autistic children.

Did this really say William Tiller? Founder of the Institute for Psychoenergetic Science? It doesn’t get much woo-ier than Tiller. The dude’s like Deepak Chopra on quantum steroids. I mean, just peruse his website and you’ll find the “Biobodysuit Metaphor”:

  • Each layer has a unique substance and infrastructure
  • The outer 2 layers constitute temporal physical reality
  • The middle shell is non-temporal and could be called the soul
  • The layer infrastructure and the coupling between layers largely determine the state of the wellness of the whole person of Wellness of the Whole Person


It turns out that we’ve encountered Tiller before, but it’s been a few years. For instance, I discussed one of Tiller’s papers back in 2007. If you want the details (and, really, you probably do; it’s one of the more amusing Friday Doses of Woo I ever wrote and the illustrations cribbed from Teller’s paper will either cause you to clutch your head in pain or to laugh uproariously—possibly both), go back to the original post. It’s basically what I referred to as “information theory homeopathy,” in which “a higher-dimensional-level substance, labeled deltrons, falling outside the constraints of relativity theory and able to move at velocities” faster than the speed of light and that act as “a coupling agent between the electric monopole types of substances and the magnetic monopole types of substances to produce both electromagnetic (EM) and magnetoelectric (ME) types of mediator fields exhibiting a special type of ‘mirror principle’ relationship between them” is responsible for homeopathic effects.

In 2010, I took on another bit of Tiller woo that contained an illustration like this outlining what he referred to as “an energy level diagram embracing both classical physical and ”unseen” vacuum levels of substance”:


In any case, Tiller has a page with 30 white papers. I should be thankful. If I ever lack for blogging material, well, there it is!

In any case, this is how Hirsch describes the Autism Healing Intentions Program:

It is a year-long program which includes energetic healing broadcasts to your home on a portion of an hourly basis 24 hours per day, 365 days in the year, providing the stimulus for the information and energetic conditioning of your home, six 60-minute group feedback sessions with Suzy Miller and Dr. Tiller to discuss observations related to the experiment and respond to any questions, and a private online social network community for participants of the Autism Intention Program only. It was very affordable, considering that one session of energy healing can cost $100. The whole family was getting a healing every day for a year! How cool is that?

The very first night of the first broadcast, I was putting my son to bed, and he had forgotten his stuffed bear in my bedroom. After I tucked him in, he said, “Get the bear, yes!” Normally, he would have just said, “Bear.” Coincidence? I think not!

Brain death? I think so!

It turns out that a lot of our “Thinkers” are into “energetic healing,” so much so that in July TMR is holding a conference they call Energetic Healing for Children with Autism and Their Families. Included as the speakers are Tami Duncan, described thusly:

Tami Duncan is a mom of two kids. During her twelve year journey through autism, biomedical interventions, therapies and lyme disease she awakened to her own spiritual gifts realizing that when she integrated energy healing and spiritual practices into her treatment for herself and her son, big things happened. She dove in head first and became a student of the Universe and trained in Reiki, Vibrational Healing, Shamanic Techniques, Multi-Dimensional Frequencies, Garcia Ennergetics, Mediumship, Channeling, Essential Oils, Flower Essences, Telepathic Communication and many more techniques given to her through spiritual guidance. She considers herself both a student and a teacher.

If there’s a form of quackery, spiritual or otherwise, that Duncan doesn’t believe in, I’m hard-pressed to identify it. Also on the list of speakers are a psychic medium (Danielle Mackinnon) an Energy Kinesiologist who also practices something she calls Somatic Emotional Acupressure (S.E.A.®) (Joy Del Giudice), a practitioner of Emotional Freedom Techniques (Kelly Burch), and a practitioner of something called BodyTalk (Heather Fraser). Several of them have embraced quackery other than energy medicine quackery, as well. Of course.

I find it amusing that this obnoxiously arrogant (is there any other way to be arrogant?) coffee klatch of self-absorbed women worried about “toxins” but unafraid of large quantities of wine and coffee, thinks itself so superior in its knowledge of medicine and autism. Think about it. Several of them believe in huge quantities of the very New Age nonsense that inspired Tim Minchin to write Storm. They’re holding a conference including psychic mediums and quacks who think they can manipulate life “energy” and heal over distances. Several of them have apparently become disciples of one of the woo-iest of the woo-meisters, William Tiller. I don’t know what that is, but I do know what it is not: Thinking.

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]

100 replies on “What “Thinking” about autism (or anything) is not”

Please will someone tell the Drinking Moms that the plural of “medium” is “media”?

[William Tiller is] like Deepak Chopra on quantum steroids

Quantum steroids stimulate all layers of your body simultaneously across all dimensions of existence.

Before taking quantum steroids, have your chakras adjusted by your specialist in vibrational therapy. You can learn to adjust them yourself; be sure to wear protection before going into the forbidden gap.

As the mind under quantum steroids will be racing at relativistic speed, out-of-body experiences may happen. Usually, your body will catch up with your soul in less than 12 parsecs. If your body get lost, please report the incident to the nearest medium.

In rare cases, quantum entanglement may occur. Avoid taking quantum steroids while facing anyone else or a mirror.

A ‘psychic artist’ is a medium who, instead of relaying messages from your dead loved ones, draws portraits of them for you.
I once had a session with one, during a Spiritualism phase in the 1970s. She was a good artist and drew me a nice picture of a kindly-looking old lady who, she said, was watching over me constantly. When I said I didn’t recognise the portrait, the medium had a brief consult with the spirit, then told me “She’s saying ‘Go home and look through the family photo album – you’ll find me there'”.
Funny that. If the spirit really had been “watching over me”, she would have known I was estranged from my family and thus didn’t have any album of photos to look through!

Ooh, there’s a great comment on that blog post:

…but you should know that thinking people don’t automatically dismiss something because it doesn’t fit with their worldview. They examine the evidence, and aside from thousands of “anecdotes” (where have we heard that before?), there is a great deal of scientific evidence to support the effect of electromagnetic radiation (i.e., “energy”) on biological processes. In addition, quantum mechanics has made it clear that an event in one location can very definitely affect matter in another location that is seemingly unrelated. This blog wasn’t presented from a “scientific” viewpoint, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a great deal of validity to at least a significant number of the modalities mentioned in it.


As I pointed out (but sadly I appear to be on auto-ban when it comes to comments there), as another thinking mum, I think I can say with absolute certainty that the Professor really doesn’t understand energy, quantum mechanics, or science in any shape or form.

Would Googling Moms Revolution be a more appropriate name? Though they are just as bad in googling as in thinking.

Like shooting fish in a barrel to take a shot at mothers (almost alway mums) who can’t come to terms with their child’s severe disability and distress.
I have two kids on the spectrum, and have never fallen into the traps charlatans and snake oil pedlars set. And yes it frustrates the hell out of me to see so many parents fall into their web of false promises. But I find the lack of compassion displayed here arrogant and dismissive towards parents who are drowning.
By all means attack the scammers, but leave parents who’re scared and ignorant out of it.

I understand where you’e coming from, but these mothers are doing more than just falling for spiritual mediums and quackery. Also, note that many of my readers have children on the spectrum and therefore direct experience with exactly what you are referring to. The “Thinking Moms” are actively promoting this “energy healing” and mystic quackery to others and lobbying their legislatures for quack-friendly and antivaccine-friendly laws, all the while subjecting their children to the rankest quackery, such as bleach enemas, hyperbaric oxygen, chelation therapy, etc. Worse, they’re encouraging other mothers with autistic children not to vaccinate and to subject their children to such quackery too. Finally, the most prominent trait of TMR that make its members fair game is the pure arrogance they exhibit, labeling themselves as “Thinkers” (compared to the rest of us vaccinating sheeple) who have been enlightened—unlike you. Also, when these “Thinkers” embrace all manner of pseudoscience, mysticism, and quackery, given their pernicious influence on other parents and their lobbying in Congress and state legislatures to make it easier for parents not to vaccinated and twist research priorities towards theirs, I think they’re fair game because they actively enable and promote these very scammers.

I have nothing but empathy for parents struggling with a child with autism and have a pretty good inkling of why, for instance, antivaccine viewpoints are tempting and quackery even more so.

@ Sharon; the problem is that “Thinkers'” coping mechanism is doing harm to others. I understand the need to find a mechanism for coping, but no matter the stress some mechanisms are unacceptable and need to be called out because those mechanisms are harming others.

Grief and pain deserve sympathy; accusations of witchcraft do not.

— Steve

Thanks for posting this. I worked in ultrasound technology and the energy is 20 million hertz. That is energy into the baby.

Herz is the unit for frequency, which doesn’t have much to to with the amount of energy.

This is nothing more than faith healing, dressed up in granola-and-earth-shoes lingo.

OT, sort of, but I just heard the fantastic news that Jenny McCarthy has been dumped from The View as the show is being “re-tooled.”

Sharon have you actually viewed Hirsch’s blog and the *therapies* she has put her autistic child through? She’s part of the “Autism is Medical” group and has subjected her child to every crank *biomedical* treatment, including treatment for parasites, Lyme disease and numerous “toxicities”. She does not take her child to a doctor, but subjects him to thermography…because “Autism is Medical”.

Read her blog to see the amount of money she has spent for HBOTs and how she thinks her child should be eligible for a Katie Beckett Medicaid Waiver.

The nonsense about supernatural healing is the least objectionable part of this charlatan, IMO.

The vacuum state of quantum mechanics has nothing to do with the rubbish spewed by the drinking mom’s de-evolution group.

I might be tone-trolling here, but can we quit beating the unThinking mom’s with the drinking stick? It was mentioned by one of them once (correct me if I’m wrong) and we’ve latched on to it like limpets on a rock.

I’m an alcoholic* and the cheap shots are making me wince.

I’m totally willing to consider that this is just me being oversensitive because of my issues, but it’s been bothering me every time it’s come up over the past few months and I had to get that off my chest.

*still coming to grips with it, and 66 days clean, hooray!

The point is that the boozy, chattery, self-absorbed and arrogant members of TMR think that they are superior to you, the sheeple, because they Know.

You could probably say this of any semi-organized group of conspiracy theorists. The details of what they Know may vary, but the fact that they Know (and you don’t) is a constant.

Renate @10: If you are into quantum woo, then frequency has everything to with energy. Just multiply the frequency by Planck’s constant, and you get an energy. Ignore the fact that Planck’s constant is so small (of order 10^-34 if you are using SI units). It helps that “hertz” sounds so much like “hurts”, a coincidence Douglas Adams used to advantage in one of the Hitchhiker books (the 30-Megahurt Definit-Kill Photrazon Torpedo).

Johanna, the TMR blog has mentioned their get-togethers with wine multiple times. I have referred to them as the Drinking Moms, because they certainly are not Thinking Moms.

Fair ’nuff. No doubt they’re hoping to give themselves some kind of hip-happening-sex-in-the-city vibe or something. Oh well.

And, obviously, it bugs me when anyone’s using booze as a coping mechanism* – especially parents. I’ve lost count of the number of women I’ve met through my program who’ve realized that the *best* thing they can do for their kids is to be sober…

*As I’m sure it bugs most people.

Look, I understand the attraction of a bit of good wine. I myself do the occasional Skeptics in the Pub events, and I usually enjoy them (and, yes, lots of drinking tends to happen). I discussed my love of beer in a recent post on The Food Babe. What makes TMR so prone to being mocked about their wine (and one who loves Belgian ale) is exactly what you describe: They’re so clearly trying for a hip, “Sex In the City”-type vibe or for an image of sophistication that they don’t warrant.

Oh, I love wine too. Believe me. *grin/sigh*

No worries. As I said, I had to get it off my chest and I’ve done so and I’m over it. Resume with the snark. 😉

Orac, how are you even able to get out of bed every morning and look for this level of determined stupidity, much less take it down point by point online?

I fight for critical thinking and evidence-based anything, everyday on my path through time and space. That path crosses with those of a lot of like-minded people though. I don’t go looking for wankers.

Everyone …. raise a glass to Orac!

If you are into quantum woo, then frequency has everything to with energy. Just multiply the frequency by Planck’s constant, and you get an energy.

This is the acoustic case. W—pedia reminds me that sound energy density is proportional to the square of particle velocity, which is particle displacement times frequency.

That Fox story is pretty funny.

“‘Jenny just didn’t appeal to the daytime audience market. They couldn’t relate to her,’ a source told FOX411.”

Followed by the twit tweet that she wasn’t staying without Sherri Shepherd. D’ohlmsted was just touting McCarthy’s response to Sawyer’s stepping down.


Sometimes, the woo comes to you. Orac, having that status within the skeptical community he does, frequently has things forwarded to him, so he needn’t go a-hunting. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was something similar.

A couple of things… I’m writing from Paradise -btw-**:

– One of the chief ‘energy healing’ proselytisers amongst the TMs is Alison MacNeil who SHOULD KNOW BETTER as she is a social worker, psychotherapist et al.
– They are trying to project a hipster, *bon vivant*, *smoking hot mama* vibe -which is easily mockable- whereas problems with alcohol can be serious
I don’t know if they realise that they are perhaps affecting impressionable young women who are dealing with severely autistic children and may be vulnerable to MANY harmful influences- alcohol, not least amongst them. ( as well as promoting woo).

I like a few drinks myself but exaggerate a bit because I was, after all, named after the g-d of wine ( look it up) and come from a family which made *mucho dinaro* in the 19th century by creating a spectacular gin and the money contnues to benefit many of us even today.

I often refer to their efforts as ‘group therapy gone wrong’

** No, not THAT Paradise ( which I don’t believe in anyway)

That’s *DINERO*

As Dr. Science once said, if you tell an actor he’ll be the next De Niro you won’t have to pay him much dinero!

As theists would say, ‘Good God!’, the paragraph that begins ‘My son is almost 16’ and ends with ‘consulted with mediums’ (though hopefully not with the ‘media’) is way beyond stereotype and into the realm of self-satire.

If my mum had ever subjected me to all of that quackadoodle stuff, particularly the really invasive bits, I would have gone positively catatonic to escape from it.

The last thing any kid needs, particularly one who is already even slightly socially awkward, is to have a bunch of grownups trying to get her or him to ’emote’ and paying him or her an excruciating degree of ‘attention.’ Any adult, normal or ASD, who was subjected to that sort of emotional drool, would make amply clear that it is as welcome as an infestation of biting flies.

If it’s mysticism these people want, they should try the real thing: Sufi poetry for the theistically inclined, Zen meditation for agnostics and atheists, with the added benefit that either of those will keep them too busy to pester their kids. But what they’re peddling isn’t that, it’s recycled occultism with a heaping plate full of New Age magical thinking, and a side-order of word salad.

As for the ‘vacuum,’ it’s in the hall closet so the Thinking Dads can sweep up before the Thinking Moms get home. And writing some fictional stories in the Fantasy genre would be a constructive use of all that ‘energy.’

Ultrasounds cause autism? Thanks for the link, lilady. Both my kids were subjected to frequent ultrasounds (the first, especially, almost weekly since she was high-risk for various reasons) and neither of them is autistic. I suppose that if you’re fishing for anecdotes as data, conflicting anecdotes suffice as conflicting data.

If it’s mysticism these people want, they should try the real thing: Sufi poetry for the theistically inclined, Zen meditation for agnostics and atheists….

If there’s any mysticism involved in zazen, somebody’s doing it wrong.

I suppose that if you’re fishing for anecdotes as data, conflicting anecdotes suffice as conflicting data.

There is a common misconception that “data” is the plural of “anecdote”. People who are into medical woo seem particularly prone to this kind of misconception.

Too bad they hijacked the “thinking moms’ title as it is confusing with “The Thinking Person’s guide to Autism” which is very much that. Common sense approaches to persons with autism and acceptance and conversations about autism with people who are autistic. Wish more people would read about this group!

“‘Jenny just didn’t appeal to the daytime audience market. They couldn’t relate to her,’ a source told FOX411.”

Followed by the twit tweet that she wasn’t staying without Sherri Shepherd.

She’s such a BS artiste. After her appearance for a cancer foundation event in Ottawa was cancelled after much public revulsion, JMcC blamed a “scheduling conflict”.


But, but, but, but – they’ve read “THE SCIENCE”!! That gets me every time. The unthinkers always tout “the science”, (and that’s precisely how they say it) like they all have neurobiology PhDs. Now that the ‘science’ consists of mediums, oils and voodoo, I’m hopeful that many of the moms formerly taken in by the group, will recognize the cult they have become.

Orac you owe me a new keyboard after your not so subtle…”Oh. My. God.” It has been diet pepsi saturated

Also on the list of speakers are a psychic medium (Danielle Mackinnon)

I thought you were leading up to a “Striking the happy medium” joke. DISAPPOINTED.

Or indeed, to the classic headline “Small Medium at Large!”

Johanna, I just wanted to say congratulations and I can understand your complaint. I am guilty of it myself and will refrain from doing so in the future.

That diagram? With the “electric monopole substance level” and so on?

I think I suffered permanent brain damage just by seeing it.

Now that the ‘science’ consists of mediums, oils and voodoo, I’m hopeful that many of the moms formerly taken in by the group, will recognize the cult they have become.

Maybe some of the more sane ones will, but this will simply increase the average craziness of the group as a whole. This seems to have been a trend with the antivax movement in general over the past few years – as the evidence against them stacks up and public opinion increasingly turns against them, they become smaller but even more irrational, vocal, and even dangerous.

SarahA: no, they have not become smaller. Have you seen the list of TMR’s followers? At this point, ‘I’m a parent of an autistic kid’ is pretty much synonymous with Dunning-Kruger and being anti-science. Yes, there are a few sensible people who are raising autistic kids, but the chance of spotting one offline (or online for that matter) is very, very slim.

Since they focus on their role as “moms,” the writers at TMR might be interested in a recent study in JAMA Psychiatry that suggests that the ASD scores of parents of parents correlate with the ASD risk for their children. Although the authors concluded that “These findings support the role of additive genetic influences in concentrating inherited ASD susceptibility in successive generations and the potential role of preferential mating,” the Thinking Moms, who deny genetic risk, must assume that that can only mean that parents with autistic traits are unusually likely to vaccinate their offspring.

re the TMs:
not only have their followers’ numbers increased but they have a whole pack of newbies: Oracle, Karma, Shawtie**, Green Bean Girl*** etc AND a new book TMR: The Evolution of a Revolution

** Shorty in Black English
*** ?

How about “Tex” from the TMR…whose son may or may not have been “vaccine injured”, before he underwent surgery.

According to Dr. Tex is was the anesthesia or something which may or may not have triggered all those nasty ingredients in vaccines which were given way before anesthesia, which caused his regression.

Dr. Tex is available on her own Facebook page where she dispenses advice about anesthesia.

Off topic, but this is as wacky as the TMR:

On Tuesday, Timothy Ray Murray challenged longtime incumbent Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional district. Murray lost, but he says he will contest the outcome of the election because, he says,“Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been [replaced] by a look alike.”
Murray claims that Lucas, along with “a few other Oklahoma and other States’ Congressional Members,” was executed in southern Ukraine.

As Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Lucas’ body double is a leading recipient of contributions from Monsanto and a supporter of dreaded GMOs. Connect the dots, sheeple.

TMR is inaugerating the TMs’ Official Book Club which will commence @ facebook in a few days announces newbie Zorro: they will discuss the group’s latest Meisterwerk.

Oh joy. Think of the Science. Think of the bonding. Think of the waste of perfectly good electrons.

*Pardonez moi*: I must rush off to further leisure. Which can be hard work.


At this point, ‘I’m a parent of an autistic kid’ is pretty much synonymous with Dunning-Kruger and being anti-science. Yes, there are a few sensible people who are raising autistic kids, but the chance of spotting one offline (or online for that matter) is very, very slim.

I have to take issue with your comment. You are forgetting the principle that the loudmouths get the most exposure. Most autism parents are not anti-science, not Dunning-Kruger and reject the vaccines cause autism lie AND the associated quackery. Just because the “thinking” Mom’s “revolution” and others talk rubbish and support quackery doesn’t mean the majority do. Never forget that the Bolsheviks were lying when they called themselves that (“Bolshevik” means “majority” and they were in the minority).

JF: You are forgetting the principle that the loudmouths get the most exposure. Most autism parents are not anti-science, not Dunning-Kruger and reject the vaccines cause autism lie AND the associated quackery.

No, I’m not forgetting that principle. I just add the mouse principle to it- see one, assume there are ten more that you don’t see.

I was going to say something similar to JF @ 52, but I decided to look for info on the percentage of parents with autistic kids who are antivax and/or into biomed woo first – and I couldn’t find anything! You’d think someone would have done a survey or something…now I’m curious. Does anyone know of any legitimate study that’s been done to find out how many parents of autistic kids are antivax? I believe Autism Speaks is the largest organization of parents (but not, as has been pointed out, autistics themselves), and they reject the autism-vaccine hypothesis, which would seem to suggest that the majority or parents also reject it.

Sarah A: they (Autism Speaks) reject the autism-vaccine hypothesis.

The Wrights, who founded and run Autism Speaks, don’t. Some of the lower-level members might not hold to the anti-vax view.

OT: A status hearing in the Hershberger case was scheduled June 27. It will occur July 23.

@ Sarah A:

I came across a few figures in my .. er.. travels:
– 2012: an NPR/ Reuters poll estimated that nearly 30% of all parents with kids under 18 “had questions” about vaccines ( US)
– Seth Mnookin in a 2013 magazine piece said 1% of parents did not vaccinate their children at all and 10% vaccinated selectively (US)
– there’s a UK study that said that about 8% of parents of kids with ASDs believed that vaccines were responsible for the condition IIRC ( via Krebiozen)
-something even more recent ( last few weeks) quoted @ AoA that says 39% of parents thought vaccines caused autism
– other stuff about vaccines-cause-autism as conspiracy theory / urban legend ( 20%? of all people)

I’m sorry I can’t search more HOWEVER I am currently attempting to reconcile myself with leaving Paradise and have little time left.

something even more recent ( last few weeks) quoted @ AoA that says 39% of parents thought vaccines caused autism

Sounds like the Wakefield “why I’m not really a self-aggrandizing scumbag with a practically nonexistent support base” speech.

“In a recent poll, U.S. adults who believe vaccines cause autism rose from 18 percent in 2011 to 29 percent today. There’s 33 percent of all parents with children under 18.”

He’s trying to save the undecided, as I recall.

^ Oh, and “the pharmaceutical industry has spent $30 billion a year on promoting vaccines.” Shirley, he meant on the population underlying the poll, yes? I mean, it’s the introductory sentence.


My impression, from reading comments on vaccine-autism posts here and elsewhere, is that the UK has more than its fair share of anti-vaxxers, but I may be mistaken.

– there’s a UK study that said that about 8% of parents of kids with ASDs believed that vaccines were responsible for the condition IIRC ( via Krebiozen)

That would be this study done in North East London in 2003, five years after Wakefield’s fraudulent paper was published. Back in those days the specific claim being countered was that MMR caused regressive autism. As we know, the goalposts have moved considerably since then.

The 8% figure is the number of cases of regressive autism specifically in which the parents blamed MMR specifically (8 out of 118 cases). There were 521 children with childhood autism, atypical autism or Asperger’s where the researchers were able to confirm the diagnosis, and in 12 cases (2.3%) the parents blamed vaccines. I think it’s true to say back then it hadn’t yet occurred to parents to blame vaccines in general for ASDs in general.

That particular study is also of interest because it documented changes in the number of parents blaming vaccines before and after Wakefield’s claims hit the media (in August 1997).

From August 1997 the reported presence or timing of regression changed in 13 cases. For six of these, regression was mentioned for the first time after August 1997, even though many health professionals had seen these children before this date. In seven cases the recorded timing of onset of regression changed in relation to MMR: six closer, one further away.

This is good evidence that some parents have edited their memories of the timing, and even the occurrence, of their child’s autistic regression after they became aware of the claim that MMR causes autism.

A 2013 poll in the UK found that 6% of respondents thought the MMR was unsafe, down from 14% in 2004. The percentage of parents planning to give their child MMR had also increased over the same period, from 88% to 90%. I was surprised to see that almost twice as many people supported “legally compulsory” vaccination (55%) as opposed it (28%).

It looks to me as the battle is being won, in the UK at least.

Talking of Wakefield, has anybody else seen this?
Unfortunately, it’s not Wakers who’s being sued, but the lawyers who were supposed to get compensation for the families with autistic children. That is something I really don’t understand.

I have read through the Thinking Moms blog a couple of times before. I do have sympathy for many of the women who post there. They have what can only be described as “sickly” children. The problem is that they blame the child being sickly on the medical care he or she is receiving. It is common to read stories on that site by women who took their sick child to the hospital, got him medical care, and then noticed that he was sick again a week later. They of course, blame the medical care, not the fact that they clearly have a child who is prone to illness. The other thing they cannot get through their heads is that sickly children used to die in childhood. The reason these sickly children are kept alive today is because of modern medicine, not despite it.

My own theory is that these women cannot accept that they made an unhealthy child, and that their child may never be in robust health. They must find a cause, and since those children tend to get a lot of medical care, they reverse cause and effect, and blame the medical care itself. They blame the antibiotics their child gets for their frequent infections as being responsible for everything that ails the kid. The truth is that without the antibiotics, the child would have been dead. I think we have simply reached the point where “Thinking Moms” and their ilk just take it for granted that every child survives childhood, when of course that only happens because we have modern medical care.

@ Rose: Most, if not all, of the autistic children of those Thinking Mom’s do not have extraordinary health problems. Those mommies seek out quacks to diagnose gut problems (systemic candida infections, viral infections…and “autistic enterocolitis”), for which their kids are prescribed not-clinically-indicated powerful anti-fungal and anti-viral medications.

They put their children on restrictive GFCF diets and dose them with multiple supplements and homeopathic medicines to “recover/cure” autism.

They revere quack practitioners such as Kerri Rivera who hawks industrial bleach enemas to de-worm their kids and many of the those mommies suffer from delusional parasistosis:

@lilady Well, after reading many of the comments, I simply had never heard of taking a kid to the doctor and the hospital so much. I was starting to wonder if maybe most of these women did not have children who were simply “sickly” but maybe it was just part of the mother’s mental illness. Several of the moms wrote about taking their kid to numerous doctors, hospitals, etc, and all the while they were “only” given antibiotics, or were told that they could not find out what was wrong with the kid.

Are these women really just Munchers then? Is this the new Munchausen by proxy? In the 1950’s they insisted their kid needs leg braces. My own cousin’s Muncher mom insisted she had epilepsy throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. Is this the new Muncher trend?

It seems to me that there is a new kind of Munchers, where women go to the internet to get the attention they need. The abuse is either denial of proper medical care, or administering quack remedies.

Rose: The only problem with suggesting that this is Munchhausen’s by Proxy is that mental illness is not contagious. I think it’s more like a cult, personally. There might be a few women with Munchausens who have autistic kids, but most of them are sucked into groupthink or would have been religious fanatics in another era.

As for the rest, I’m with Lilady; most of these kids are simply getting too much medical care or suffering from a restricted diet. I’d also add that the ‘thinkers’ tend to rampantly overdiagnose- one mother believed that kids with dark circles under their eyes were suffering from gluten allergies; I suspect the only things the kids were suffering from were bookwormitis undercoveris, or videogamus latenoctis.
It isn’t too much of a leap to think that they might consider a child prone to colds ‘sickly’ or inflate a common cold or tummy bug into something entirely different.

I do not think that all of them are Munchers. Though mental illness is not contagious, there could still be a massive selection bias going on at these blogs. I think that the kind of women who are obsessed with their child’s “health” tend to gravitate to places like Thinking Moms. I also think that something like “Munchers Lite” can start to manifest in women who are constantly reading these blogs. They do not see the harm they are doing because everything they try is “natural”.

OT, but I was pleased to see a comment from James Randi on the thread about Deepak Chopra. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that our host is on the radar of such sceptical luminaries, but I was slightly amazed (as promised by his title, I suppose).

Closer to the current topic, I think we humans have been terrified by the universe* since we came down out of the trees (which, as Douglas Adams observed, may have been a serious mistake). Large portions of our lives are completely out of our control, and we all deal with that in different ways, either through resignation, or by pretending that we actually have far more control that we really do. The latter may take the form of prayer, or of adopting a variety of quasi-medical practices that may do more harm than good, but which various cognitive biases allow us to believe are doing some good.

As for Munchausen’s** (whether by proxy or not), I wonder how much is pathological attention-seeking (or whatever – I know it’s more complex than that) and how much is a conviction that something is really wrong, and that if they fake an illness doctors might notice the real one. I remember a case I encountered years ago: a woman who deliberately contaminated her urine samples with blood, triggering extensive investigations to find the cause.

* The ‘terror of the situation’ I think that old fraud Gurdjieff called it.

** I have trouble taking the name seriously as I have always used the name Baron Von Munchausen (and his extended family) for dummy patients when developing various databases over the years. That and Terry Gilliam, of course.

@lilady #68:

The notion that autistic kids are more sickly, prone to “gut problems”, etc., seems very prevalent… At least on the internet. However the other day, I’ve heard someone who works with autistic children in a professional capacity (she’s a clinical psychologist) say that in her experience, they seem less prone to colds, tummy bugs and other common childhood problems than non autistic kids. She thinks they build a strong immunity by putting things in their mouth, eating dirt, etc. I’m taking this with a grain of salt substitute, of course, but I wonder if there has been research into this question.

Irene: Doesn’t every kid eat dirt? My little sister (non-autistic) used to lick rock salt off the porch, and one of the little girls next door plays with dead animals. I’d imagine that every parent on this blog has a horror story about ‘what my kid ate/licked.’

In another failure to think, Gamondes smells a cover-up:

Unfortunately the study above, which was originally accessed in June, 2011, may have been bowdlerized—the title and text altered. In any case, the old link to the 2001 study (Pediatrics) now redirects to a 2004 study which weaves in the updated issue of “unvaccinated” privileged white children whose parents avoid vaccines rather than having reduced access—something not mentioned at all in the 2001 study. The original 2001 title appears only in the citations of other studies at this point.

Um, no the “original 2001 title” doesn’t appear much of anywhere. Except in the actual paper. Perhaps if you hadn’t omitted the first sentence, this wouldn’t be such a mystery, Adriana:

Table 3 gives the results of the logistic regression model analysis for evaluating factors associated with being undervaccinated, compared with fully vaccinated.”

No doubt they also went back and repaginated the rest of the 2001 volume to hide the body.

I don’t think that it’s fair to label or diagnose individuals- it really isn’t important to ‘know’ formally what particular dxs are involved unless you’re treating someone…maybe not even then
we can observe how people behave and what they write or say in order to understand them and their possible future actions.

I think that many TMs are motivated similarly to woo-meisters:
they want to be recognised for expertise ( which they don’t have) which would engender social power and perhaps monetary gain.

They are unable to accept particular diagnoses or situations as explained by SBM and seek to replace them with ones that are more amenable to their needs and desires; along the way, they get the chance to chastise the professionals with whom they disagree.

Of course, this is ego-boosting, enabling them to lift themselves above the slings and arrows of their actual situation as described as authorities :
if you are a nutritionist, you can hold yourself above doctors and psychologists;
if your child is not a brag-worthy super achiever but an average child or one with a LD or an ASD, you can raise yourself ( and the child) above those naysayers with degrees.

If you don’t like Reality,
Create your own ™

Obviously we might venture about what it _means_ to disregard socially accepted reality and substitute an idiosyncratic one- of course, this occurs in environs other than woo-centirc ones-
that’s why there is a great effort by these partisans to gain followers and get publicity because it denies that their view is indeed minority.

Usually woo-meisters and anti-vaxxers predict a turning of the tide in which they will triumph rather than flail about in swirlings water way over their heads –
as Adriana Gamondes does today and every day ( see AoA).

I see that Narad and I are on the same page- literally as well as figuratively!


I think so too. Kids playing in the dirt, putting things in the mouth, licking dirty fingers, eating food that fell on the ground with the dirt stuck to it… My personal anecdotes also include earthworms. Eww.

I only wondered if there really is something to the assertion that autistic children really have more behaviors of the type than neurotypical ones.

Irene: I only wondered if there really is something to the assertion that autistic children really have more behaviors of the type than neurotypical ones.

Autistic kids might hang onto that particular behavior for longer then their peers, perhaps.

I don’t think that it’s fair to label or diagnose individuals- it really isn’t important to ‘know’ formally what particular dxs are involved unless you’re treating someone…maybe not even then

With a specific, named individual, I guess I agree that it’s not very sporting. But apart from that, I think it depends on whether it’s of any utility as an aid to understanding, which itself depends on one’s purpose. It might be just the thing, under some circumstances.

^^That’s just wrt diagnosis, though. Labels are A-OK, afaic. They’re haters. And followers. Both of those things make them dangerous, imo.

@ ann:

Not just un-sporting but against the Official Psychologists’ International Rulebook ™,

A guy who wrote a book about hiv/aids denialism DOES venture a guess or two ( in the interest of his readers’ edification) concerning ‘dissidents’ who garner fame and/ or sell supplements. Narcissicistic Personality Disorder IIRC. HOWEVER he has met and interacted amongst them because he- sort of -infiltrated their cult.

Discussing how a person behaves or writes is another story even if our only contact with them is via the ‘net. We might also try to figure out what motivates them. Remember that they post this material for all to see.

I do believe that much of what we discuss- even if strictly not 100% kosher- IS in the public interests whenever someone promotes ideas or sells pseudoscience – including “meds”- that can harm people.

Selling GI bleach is not the only problem- pseudo-therapies are not just physically oriented. It’s not only anti-vax: alt med pushes loads of crap ideas for all conditions.

DW:I don’t think that it’s fair to label or diagnose individuals.

Diagnose, no. Labeling’s just fine. Like labeling them ‘people who I will avoid at all costs.’

Not just un-sporting but against the Official Psychologists’ International Rulebook ™,

Ah. I didn’t know.

I haven’t seen the OPIR 5 yet, though.


A guy who wrote a book about hiv/aids denialism DOES venture a guess or two ( in the interest of his readers’ edification) concerning ‘dissidents’ who garner fame and/ or sell supplements. Narcissicistic Personality Disorder IIRC. HOWEVER he has met and interacted amongst them because he- sort of -infiltrated their cult.


But in my observation and experience, people say that when what they really mean is that the subject is self-involved, which is a common feature of several personality and/or (formerly) Axis 1 disorders (and/or, ftm, non-pathologically disordered personalities).

I mean, in a non-clinical setting, without access to personal history, etc., the difference between a narcissist, someone with BPD, a sociopath, a junkie, and a plain old fanatic can be pretty nuanced. They all seem like they have narcissistic features.

***”I am not a mental health professional.”

@ ann:

The author is a psychologist. He only uses that dx on two or three people IIRC. He created an alias, said he was interested in their theories and hung around with the principal denialists for a while. What tales he had to tell!

Politicalguineapig @ 44

At this point, ‘I’m a parent of an autistic kid’ is pretty much synonymous with Dunning-Kruger and being anti-science. Yes, there are a few sensible people who are raising autistic kids, but the chance of spotting one offline (or online for that matter) is very, very slim.

Ouch. I am the mother of a 5 1/2 y.o. autistic boy. I also work in science, have vaccinated him, haven’t bleached his insides, and haven’t put him on a restricted diet.

Almost all of the parents I know with autistic kids have accepted the diagnosis, and are moving forwards with appropriate speech therapy, occupational therapy etc. We don’t hang out online researching woowoo ways to “recover” our kids.

I don’t hang out in places like TMR, because it makes me unbelievably sad that these “Warrior Moms” just can’t accept who their kids are, and are inflicting on them therapies that for any other person, and for any other reason, would be considered torture.

I think you’ll find that most parents of autistic children fight their battles closer to home, and don’t have the energy to take on the knuckleheads at TMR.

Aunt Benjy, please forgive our resident generalist and stereotyper; she seems to think that political/scientific/religious/cultural persuasions follow some kind of geographical delineation which can be further binned by her perceptions of what the more vocal amongst her chosen targets do online.

You have a lot of support here and many commentors walk in your shoes. Cheers.

Aunt Benjy: Fair enough. Raising a kid with special needs does take a lot of energy- especially if you’re working at the same time. Part of my beef with TMR is that those people seem to spend more quality time with their laptops than their kids. (Or even their spouses.) I apologize if I offended you.

Sciencemom: See my mouse rule. It’s easier and simpler to never interact with people whose views you might not agree with (or who turn out to view you as sub-human) than to have to flee a friendship or promising relationship.

@Aunt Benjy. Please stick around. Your input as a parent and and as an advocate for your child, is a welcome addition here.


You have to remember that TMR is a group blog** which presents slice-of-life musings by distinct ( and competitve) personalities, jockeying for position, proudly displaying their warrior scars as well as their martyr complexes- it is thus by nature histrionic and akin to reality television where everyday life is tarted up for an audience.

I wonder how much of what they write is actually real. The stories smack of set-pieces, complete with I-told-you-so climaxes and defeated orthodoxy denouements. It’s friggin’ chick-lit. ( which Kim writes-btw-)

Our friend, Reuben @ The Poxes, thinks at least one TM ( Mamacita/ Jameson) suffers from mental illness. It’s possible- as mental illness is rather common. TMR consists of 24 originals plus a bunch of newbies so I’m sure that at least a few have mental illnesses.

HOWEVER their self-aggrandising attitudes, anti-science and willingness to prescribe and proscribe medical treatments are NOT necessarily marks of mental illness – more like uncouthness and a lack of self-awareness, social skill and responsibiliity towards others. AND showing-off in public.

If any of them are truly mentally ill, we should sympathise.

** at first, I typed “bog”, which is probably correct as AoA is a swamp of un-reason. A bog of in-expertise perhaps?

See my mouse rule.

I see things a little differently. As a general rule I assume that for every loud-mouthed obnoxious person there are a hundred decent caring people quietly getting on with their lives. That rule has served me well thus far.

OMG! I’m not alone – I thought I was the only blogger (Asperger’s) that flamed the supernatural-magical-religious industry that has been built around Psychology: The Religion of Autism/Asperger’s. As a (hard) scientist I am APPALLED at what psychologists claim is “scientific research” (incompetent and prejudiced) with conclusions that are rehashed Puritanical notions of good / evil. I just read one “study” that claims rational and sane (scientific) perceptions of reality are defective and deviant; to be socially acceptable, Asperger’s individuals must reject reality and get right with God! WOW!

I have got to learn not to peruse TMR as a matter of simple neuronal preservation. They’ve run a post by “Rebel” effectively shilling for their “platinum conference sponsor.”

Beth’s wellness journey took her to Dr. Corrine [sic] Allen’s brain camp. I considered Dr. Corrine [sic] my mentor, and I am very familiar with her work…. It was at this camp that Beth learned her blood-brain barrier was at 4%…. There is even a flower essence for radiation: Electro Essence…. What have I done? I placed a diode on the back of my cell phone.

@ Narad:

Your neurons are perfectly safe. Trust me on this.

HOWEVER I wouldn’t attest that you will be spared nausea, headaches, nervous tremors or violent feelings of disgust after reading their swill.
But you’ll get better.

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