By Dan Olmsted
My friend, AOA colleague and co-author Mark Blaxill was on the Linderman Unleashed radio show on the Natural News Network this week. He and Curt Linderman Sr. talked about the Canary Party, of which Mark is chairman, the congressional hearing last year and another coming next month, as well as recent controversies within our own autism advocacy community.
Mark says fighting amongst ourselves is misguided, and makes the useful distinction between standing up for oneself against untrue allegations (which he does) and infighting (which he doesn't, we don't, and nobody should). Catch the interview here
-- it's the second half hour. Peace, friends.
Michael Specter doesn't think much of people like us -- people who believe that evidence and experience point clearly to excessive vaccination, and vaccine-type mercury, as the cause of the autism epidemic (which, we also believe, is all too real). Specter wrote his book Denialism in 2009 to make that case, lumping us in with all other manner of supposed unscientific quackery.
Specter was at it again in a talk this month in Canada, preceded by a Q and A in the local paper. "Rejecting science a perilous path, writer argues". The piece begins:
"From an unfounded correlation between vaccines and autism to a spreading fear about genetically modified “Frankenfood,” Michael Specter is a staff writer for The New Yorker who has been documenting what he believes is a dangerous denial of scientific evidence in the world today." (I may be a dangerous know-nothing scientifically speaking, but there's no denying that sentence is not so good English speaking.)
A short flavor of the thing:
Q: What is the danger of having people deny the evidence of science?
A: People who don’t get vaccinated are getting sick. We have measles, whooping cough. These things had disappeared. For a particular parent not to vaccinate their kid is bad, but it also affects my kid, because if you go to school with my kid and you’re not vaccinated you could be infectious.
Q: How much damage is done by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Oz who preach their own take on science?
A: A lot of people who are seemingly intelligent or, in the case of Jenny McCarthy, popular for a reason I couldn’t explain, are looked up to. I don’t think we should live in a society where what a Kardashian says is how we decide to deliver medicine.
You get the idea. Evidence is everything. Kim Kardashian causes measles. Which reminded me, when I wrote about his book back in 2009, pointing out some evidentiary issues -- i.e., mangled facts, copying Paul Offit's words as his own -- I noted it lacked footnotes
but that his website, michael specter.com, promised the goods: "Footnotes coming soon".
His website still says that nigh unto four years later, which, let's face it, is not too cool for someone who keeps pounding us for alleged failure to respect the importance of evidence. So I sent him an email this week:
I'm writing a piece about your recent critique of the vaccine-autism hypothesis, and saw that your website still says "footnotes coming soon," which is what it said back in 2009. I'm going to point out that they still are not posted, and would welcome a comment from you about this.
He wrote back: "Never did it then seemed silly as time went on. I always supply sources when people with legitimate questions ask"
One can only imagine what "legitimate questions" might be, and from whom. Now, the book that the above-cited Mark Blaxill and I wrote had more than 700 of those suckers, and let me tell you they are a pain in the patooti, especially for a first time author like me.
It seems Michael forgot to take his crabby pills -- perhaps because Paul Offit has banned supplements for all right-thinking people? He emailed me again: "Also curious which "recent" critique. I have not altered my position, or approach to that position for years"
Dude, no one accused you of altering anything. I sent him the link
-- you know, the evidence, the citation, the footnote, Montreal Gazette, October 15, 2013. Didn't hear anything more.
Let me quit picking on poor Michael now and say something about the idea crystallized in that ungrammatical sentence (op. cit.) that it's dangerous to deny "the evidence of science" because, logically, it causes measles, and, more broadly, creates a class of citizens who will believe just about anything. What's dangerous, in my view, is to talk about the evidence of science as though it were the Teachings of God Almighty declaimed in The Jumbo Book of True Scientific Facts.
As Mark Blaxill (cf.) points out, what there really is, is good evidence and bad evidence. To treat science, small s, developed through the iterative process of guessing and testing by mere mortals, as some Holy Writ, capital H capital W, which only the priestly caste may interpret, suggests a lack of honest to God scientific literacy, a willingness to take the proclamations of Experts on trust, and a contempt for the observations of fellow citizens who may or may not wear the purple robes before whom folks like Michael Specter genuflect.
Abandon Moloch and the false gods of unearned authority, all ye who wish to see the face of truth!
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.