One of the guilty pleasures of covering the autism story lo these many years is to witness the spectacle of arrogant, ignorant "experts" weighing in on the issue -- supposedly on the side of science, or, as they often think of it, Science -- and making absolute blithering fools of themselves.
It's even more fun to contemplate the blot this will eventually be on their permanent record, because we're not talking here about trivialities, the kind of feature-y stuff where a lot of these folks spend most of their intellectual energy, such as it is. No, when they opine about things like mercury, vaccines and autism, and declare it to be a proven fact that none of those could possibly be related, they are Wrong When It Really Matters.
That's why I call them Wwirms. The newest Wwirm to come crawling our way is one Alexandra Petri, a Washington Post blogger who says she "puts the pun in punditry."
"Consider the Congressional hearing today on the dangerous link between vaccines and autism – again, not a real problem that exists, as countless studies have demonstrated. It is abundantly clear that vaccines save lives. Meanwhile, scientists can show no connection whatever vaccines and autism. This is a fictional problem."
She goes on to say, "next there will be a hearing about how to keep the Dragon Smaug from ravaging your village."
While it is perversely satisfying to read this kind of thing, the truth is it disrepects thousands of parents and contributes directly to the suffering of millions of human beings worldwide. That, Ms. Petri and fellow Wwirms, goes on your permanent record.