The morning shows were agog Friday over the duet between Katy Perry and a tween girl with autism, to be broadcast on tomorrow’s “Night of Too Many Stars” benefit on Comedy Central. On the Today show, Al Roker said he teared up, and trotted out the old “it must be my allergies” joke as a way of calling even more attention to it.
Touching. But what exactly is this benefit benefiting? PR for the event says it uses “comedy to raise money for autism education programs.” On the benefit’s Web site, we learn: “Night of Too Many Stars benefits a variety of autism programs across the country in support of the overabundance of individuals with autism that so desperately need quality services. In 2010, thanks to your support, Night of Too Many Stars, through its partner organization, New York Collaborates for Autism, gave more than $3.1 million in grants to 41 programs in 13 states."
I couldn't find any easily located list of who those recipients are, though I'm sure many of them are worthy. But this “partner organization,” New York Collaborates for Autism, is clearly the charitable entity involved, and it has two current initiatives, one of which is the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, due to open next year.
This is Catherine Lord’s project – along with redoing the DSM-V in a way that a lot of us don’t care for. We think it will exclude some high-functioning children with autism and muddy the waters about the real epidemic increase in autism. If you support this work, and the idea that we don’t really know if there’s an epidemic, and never will, and certainly don’t know what is causing it, by all means, contribute.
But you might want to read some of AOA’s coverage of Dr. Lord, starting with this from Katie Wright:
“What kind of human being makes money by testifying against disabled children with autism?
Dr. Eric Fombonne.
Dr. Catherine Lord.
Dr. Bennett Leventhal.
“These parasites regularly take the stand in Vaccine Court in hopes of preventing sick autistic children from receiving financial compensation for their injuries. … I think their 'work' as anti-child professional testifiers has been insufficiently discussed and deserves a good public airing, don’t you?"
Anne Dachel has also put Dr. Lord under the microscope. “In April, 2012, Dr. Catherine Lord was STILL saying that all the autism everywhere might just be ‘better detection.’”
The lifetime cost of autism is pegged at around $3 million (conservatively, given the cost to
What kind of benefit is that?
Last week I wrote about the no-debate debate, in which experts keep telling us there is no debate about whether vaccines cause autism, because they don’t, because 16 studies say so, and so on.
That leitmotif popped up this week when the Romney camp kept citing “six independent studies” that validate his tax-cut math. Turns out some of them were not so independent, including one from the American Enterprise Institute, hardly a centrist outfit. Even Chris Wallace on Fox went after this idea.
The public “gets” that when it comes to politics, the source matters. The same applies to science, and the fact that the “16 studies” were done by Pharma and their friends deserves the same kind of skepticism.
Yet the idea that in the face of overwhelming evidence, only crackpots support a link between vaccines and autism endures. A recent review of a book on pseudo-science in The New Republic by Alice Gregory reports GOP Senate Candidate Todd Akin’s “prominent takedown was just one recent example of America rising up to fend off the scientifically deluded. (A similar reaction greeted Michele Bachman when she claimed the HPV vaccine causes autism.) But the line between science and pseudoscience is not necessarily as clear-cut as we might expect.”
Alice! Please! Bachmann – two n’s, not one – did not say it caused autism. She said it caused mental retardation. Whatever the scientific term, the vaccine can certainly wreck your life and kill you. (See our new chapter for Vaccine Epidemic, out this week.)
I wish these scientifically literate types would learn to spell and get their facts straight so that we know-nothings could be even better educated by them.
Dan Olmsted was the Founding Editor of Age of Autism from 2007 to 2017.