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Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Twilight of the Experts

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

In certain circles, nothing is more appalling than the decline of recognized expertise – degreed, pedigreed, refereed, peer-reviewed expertise.

The very idea that some people believe themselvesqualified to opine (the legal term) on various matters simply because they done studied up on it on the internets – well, it simply won’t do.

Over at thefederalist.com, Tom Nichols is not amused. “I fear we are witnessing the ‘death of expertise’: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all. …

“This is a very bad thing. Yes, it’s true that experts can make mistakes, as disasters from thalidomide to the Challenger explosion tragically remind us. But mostly, experts have a pretty good batting average compared to laymen: doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice. To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is silly.”

“Yes, it’s true that experts can make mistakes” – that’s putting mildly. The Challenger and thalidomide were not exactly minor moments in the history of technology and medicine. I wonder what Nichols would have made of self-styled critics of the space program and drugs who had raised alarms ahead of those disasters. What if they didn’t have college degrees?

Nichols equates criticism of “expert” doctors by non-experts to faith healers and chicken gut poltices (were there ever such things)? But when it comes to vaccines and autism, the real parallel is between health care providers and consumers, a point Nichols completely misses in his rush to bolster the doctors, the experts.

“To take but one horrifying example,” Nichols writes, “we live today in an advanced post-industrial country that is now fighting a resurgence of whooping cough — a scourge nearly eliminated a century ago — merely because otherwise intelligent people have been second-guessing their doctors and refusing to vaccinate their kids after reading stuff written by people who know exactly zip about medicine. (Yes, I mean people like Jenny McCarthy.)”

Never mind that most of these whooping cough patients were in fact vaccinated. Or that not just Jenny McCarthy but prominent medical experts like the late Dr. Bernadine Healy said the same thing.

Back in 2005, I wrote an Age of Autism for UPI called March of the Experts, playing (if anyone noticed) off The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman, a book that detailed the idiotic vanity and miscalculations that trigger war after war.

In autism, experts have continually been wrong, I wrote – blaming parents’ personalities for making their child autistic, ignoring the recovering of the very first child diagnosed with autism after being treated with gold salts, and condemning anyone who has ever tried biomedical treatments ever since.

“These days, parents aren't condemned for having autistic children,” I wrote, “just for doing something about it without the permission of experts who are certain nothing can be done.”

In fact, autism is the classic case in point that experts deserve no special standing. When I first went to college, I read a statement in the course catalog that has stuck with me ever since: “A course is simply a group of students examining a particular subject under the direction of someone who has studied it before.” There’s a lot of humility in that definition of the teacher, the expert – they’ve studied it before, period. Now it’s the student’s turn.

So I don’t hail from the school of expert worship. A good deal of what I’ve learned about autism has come, in fact, from what I’ve read using the internets. You can find scientific papers that way, and you can make of them what you will, whether you are an officially declared expert or not.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

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Re experts and scientific fraud...


1 - NYT FEBRUARY 12, 2014,
Dental Group Advises Fluoride Toothpaste Before Age 2
By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS

"Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt, instead of waiting until children are older, according to new guidelines by the American Dental Association.

That advice overturns the A.D.A.’s decades-old recommendation to start using a pea-size amount at 24 months. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop, the updated guidelines say....

The change comes after a systematic review of 17 studies published in The Journal of the American Dental Association this month. It concluded that scientific evidence, though limited in children under age 6 and more robust in older children, demonstrated that fluoride toothpaste is effective in controlling tooth decay, and that “the appropriate amount” should be used “by all children regardless of age.”

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/12/dental-group-advises-fluoride-toothpaste-before-age-2/?_php=true&_type=blogs&partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0


2 - CNN February 17, 2014
'Putting the next generation of brains in danger'

"We know from clinical information on poisoned adult patients that these chemicals can enter the brain through the blood brain barrier and cause neurological symptoms," said Grandjean.
"When this happens in children or during pregnancy, those chemicals are extremely toxic, because we now know that the developing brain is a uniquely vulnerable organ. Also, the effects are permanent."
Study: ADHD meds don't work long-term
The two have been studying industrial chemicals for about 30 years. In 2006, they published data identifying five chemicals as neurotoxicants -- substances that impact brain development and can cause a number of neurodevelopmental disabilities including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, dyslexia and other cognitive damage, they said.
Those five are lead, methylmercury, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and toluene....

Now, after further review, six more chemicals have been added to the list: manganese; FLUORIDE; tetrachloroethylene, a solvent; a class of chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or flame retardants; and two pesticides, chlorpyrifos, which is widely used in agriculture, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT.
"The continuing research has identified six new chemicals that are toxic to the developing human brain," said Landrigan....

At greatest risk? Pregnant women and small children, according to Grandjean. According to the review, the biggest window of vulnerability occurs in utero, during infancy and early childhood."
http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/14/health/chemicals-children-brains/

The American Dental Association is recommending that parents put a recognized neurological toxin on their baby's teeth as soon as they erupt. The ADA isn't looking at the whole child, just the teeth, just cavities. Of course the ADA has scant information about using flouride in children under age 6, according to their own admission (seems like Dr. Landrigan and Grandjean can enlighten them), but trust them, they're the experts.

@ Jenny and 'for British Mum'

Thank you both for the interesting information - I bought a copy of "The Mail on Sunday". Sorry for the delay in replying; I've had a streaming head cold (no, not the flu - grin)!

Medical orthodoxy once believed in blood-letting to cure all manner of ailments; now it's confined to a few conditions. How long will it be before the powers-that-be realise that the very real rise in the numbers of children with ASD diagnoses cannot be concealed for much longer?

Very few newspapers in the UK will cover stories about autism (particularly those of a non-orthodox content); my thanks to the "Daily Mail" and "The Mail on Sunday" for continuing to do so.

If my experience with major neurological illness has taught me anything it is that the experts are not to be trusted, or at least to be viewed with some skepticism. It seems like we currently have two medical systems. One, pharma and corporate controlled mainstream medicine, and two, independent, mainly holistic, internet medicine, where patients and families trade info and do their own research because their doctors refuse to step out of line or do any actual work. Most of what has helped me came from medical research that was not purveyed by doctors but was available through research.

How does Nichols explain that the foreword to Jenny McCarthy's book, _Louder than Words_, is written by then-medical director of Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, David Feinberg, MD? Did he not read that far?

I wonder if you might know of / be interested in this book by a philosopher I studied at college http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_the_Clinic

There are some similar points in what you've written here about knowledge and power, big themes in Michael Foucault's work.
This book comes at the pinnacle of modern medicine's optimism (1960s/70s), from the Victorian era on there was both the drive and belief that disease could be eradicated by medical experts.
Foucault himself sadly died from AIDS related illnesses in the early 80s, the epidemic that shook away confidence that illness and disease could be easily controlled.

Re the comments below about the sale of NHS data, this is selling our health information to the private sector, insurance and drug companies, with the individual having no control over who has their data, what it will be used for and no guarantee on how protected or hackable the data storage might be. Knowledge and power indeed! You just need the right price.

for British Mum
Yes-It's a horrible dilemma for mums of autistic children here in the UK. It seems the UK educational and social work establishments are trying to 'magic away' children with special needs by accusing mothers of inventing or even causing the problems.

http://www.dailyhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2554867/The-schools-spy-Munchausen-Mums-Teachers-accuse-lying-childrens-autism-attention.htmlmail.co.uk/news/article-2554867/The-schools-spy-Munchausen-Mums-Teachers-accuse-lying-childrens-autism-attention.html">http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2554867/The-schools-spy-Munchausen-Mums-Teachers-accuse-lying-childrens-autism-attention.htmlmail.co.uk/news/article-2554867/The-schools-spy-Munchausen-Mums-Teachers-accuse-lying-childrens-autism-attention.html">http://www.dailyhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2554867/The-schools-spy-Munchausen-Mums-Teachers-accuse-lying-childrens-autism-attention.htmlmail.co.uk/news/article-2554867/The-schools-spy-Munchausen-Mums-Teachers-accuse-lying-childrens-autism-attention.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10550801/The-lunatics-take-over-the-asylum-in-caring-Britain.html

I was horrified to see an article in the Daily Mail about a mother (and others too) who was on some kind of 'Munchausen's list' even though her child was diagnosed with autism by 2 professionals. She was accused of fabrication and poor parenting. Parents of children with Ehler's Danlos are also at high risk of being targeted and wrongly accused. This is very concerning.
I honestly believe my sister in law's oldest child is on the spectrum, even though they said he had ADHD. Whether or not they simply find the stigma too much or he has been misdiagnosed I am not sure but it seems obvious enough that he is on the spectrum here in Canada.

In the same vein of thought as Jeff C I can honestly say I didn't know a darn thing about mercury toxicity until I listened to experts like Dr Boyd Haley Or Andrew Cutler PhD. I suppose most of us had our eyes opened by scientists like those at the University of Calgary by their demonstration, on film, of what mercury does to brain cells. We do need experts but more than that we need the wisdom to know who's telling the truth. I've found, like most of you, it doesn't take long to see openness and honesty (or lack their of ) in an expert. We've all seen junk studies that didn't ask the right questions and one sided reporting used to prop them up. We've also seen experts who take apart those studies and explain the evidence. Mark Baxill, Bernie Rimland PhD, Dr. David Ayoub, Dr Russell Blaylock, Dr Mark and David Geier, Dr Sherri Tenpenny, Dr Suzanne Humphries Dr. Christopher Shaw, Dr Andrew Wakefield (and Dan Olmsted & David Kirby who became experts on the subject by investigation and told us the story) and many other learned men and women are owed a debt of gratitude by all of us for greatly opening our understanding. Had they not been there to debate the subject most of us would probably have just shrugged our shoulders said, well, I guess there' s nothing to this vaccine-autism thing. The doctor on t.v. said it's fine. It's not their degrees, though, that make them right. It's their honesty, no matter how much it costs them.

@ John Stone

Thanks for the information about Dr Clare Gerada. I'm still wondering about the studies she refers to which seem to have escaped my attention. I remember Professor Gillian Baird finding a rate of 1 child in a 100 (year?); also Professor Simon Baron-Cohen finding a rate closer to 1 in 58 or 64 (year?). In my area in the last few years I've been asked several times by long-term experienced teachers, "What is going on? Where are they all coming from?" referring to the numbers of ASD children reaching the schools (mainstream as well as special needs).

In the last twenty-five years or so there's been a tremendous increase in the numbers of children with ASD diagnoses. Twenty years ago my child was given a provisional diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder; very few people had even heard of autism, certainly I hadn't. A fortnight before my child's appointment with a consultant paediatrician, my mother (a very experienced teacher) tentatively suggested to me, "could X be autistic?" to which my puzzled answer was, "what's that?" Neighbours, bus drivers, taxi drivers, old friends, all with children or grandchildren being diagnosed and yet the medical profession has no visibility of the causation of this increase other than to parrot "better awareness" and "improved recognition".

The media "experts" are nothing more but propaganda tools for ruling corporate or political mafias. For money they will tell the sheeple any lie. It is very sad that still there are so many people who believe their lies and so many people are injured by these "experts". Naiveté and stupidity are deadly diseases.

@John Stone re
" It was linking GP records to hospital records that finally enabled scientists to debunk the assertion that MMR injections and autism were linked. "

Thanks for the info John Stone and revealing the marital link between Dr Gerada and Prof Simon Wessely. Yes, of course it was a medically and scientifically unqualified journalist Brian Deer who 'trolled' through both hospital and GP child records looking for 'fraudulent' discrepancies. These records were obligingly made available to Deer, apparently breaking confidentiality laws, but who cares about that? Not the UK Governments then or now.

Never mind that Dr Wakefield, unlike Deer, never even had access to the GP records, or that Prof Walker-Smith was specifically named as author of the 1998 Lancet childrens' medical histories, OR that Prof W-S was completely exonerated in the High Court, these lies just keep on coming, but that's The Times of London for you, publishers of both Gerada and Deer.

For those citizens in England threatened with having their confidential medical records shared with all and sundry, please obtain an opt out form from your GP. What is being proposed is an outrage against citizens' rights to privacy and confidentiality.

British Mum, Jenny Allan

I did get to comment on the electronic version last night a couple of times:

'" It was linking GP records to hospital records that finally enabled scientists to debunk the assertion that MMR injections and autism were linked. "

'No, it was a journalist riffling through documents which he was unqualified to understand that led to allegations about the paper by Andrew Wakefield, which have already been disproven in the High Court exoneration of Wakefield's senior co-author, Prof John-Walker-Smith, and are subject further continuing litigation in Texas. It was, however, an obscene invasion of patients' rights.'

&

'It is interesting to read in Wiki that Dr Gerada is married to Prof Sir Simon Wessely, a well known government trouble-shooter when it comes to denying claims such as ME, Gulf-War Syndrome, Camelford etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clare_Gerada '

Thank you for a very well written point, very much, but ugh, I've become so conditioned to cringe and even get a little sick at the use of a certain word that even here I was reading with a mixture of feelings despite this being very effective in expressing the true value of the word as it has been applied to autism and vaccine injury, so I guess I can assume I'm pretty immune from any attempt at manipulation with the use of that word, probably on all subjects, from certain media outlets at least. And I'm sure that's the effect they want, along with the residual repulsion that oozes over into other topics among their tomes and drives me away constantly. I don't know what to recommend to anyone wanting to use such a word with integrity (is that a paradox? I'm so far gone, I'm really having a hard time imagining how that might come about), if they want to communicate with someone like me, maybe, stay off the "mainstream???" I'm also suffering similar adverse effects with "debunked," "good studies," and "the science," "the science says,"--eek, Simon Says! Mother May I, Red Light Green Light (please, don't let many more come to mind!)--"the science has been done!"

What bothers me about the experts is that they have ignored the 10s of thousands of parents who have reported regression into autism after vaccines. The experts take a position like any preventable disease is better prevented and vaccines are the best thing that has ever happened to medicine. Anything that contradicts that position is therefore bogus. All those parents out there with autistic kids and many millions more with autoimmune diseases are just reading too much stuff on the internet.

Maybe even though chicken pox is preventable with a vaccine it's better to just get the chicken pox than take the vaccine---dahh. Seriously, chicken pox is barely a disease and the vaccine could cause autoimmune disease in the brain with the fetal DNA recombing with the viral and so the child's DNA sees human DNA as the disease--oops got that one on recombination of DNA off the internet, must be bogus. Maybe it's better to just get the flu occasionally and get some immunity to those A and B strains that will be in the pandemic version thus when the killer pandemic comes those who have had the flu won't get sick or at least quite as sick--oops got that off the internet must be bogus. There is serious science on the internet and there is garbage often in the mainstream news. Experts are very often wrong and everyone who has fallen through the cracks knows this from first hand experience.

The IACC report to congress was made available online yesterday. Throughout the report the claim is made that public input is sought and incorporated into the strategic plans. This is not true. I have repeatedly submitted comments on the importance of research on the neurological problem that prevents normal language development, and these are always ignored.

I think we need to make it clear to the “experts” that at least two forms of autism must be recognized: (1) Autism with impaired language development, a disability and (2) OK Autism without language problems, a difference.

Impaired language development is as severe a neurological disorder as aphasic disorders caused by stroke or other brain injury later in life. Language is the distinguishing feature of the human species, and its absence is a severely disabling condition. Loss of language is not just a difference.

Brain systems required for language development should be the priority for research, and how they can be impaired during pregnancy, birth, or early infancy. Disability, not difference, is the crisis which the Combatting Autism Act was intended to address.

This just baffles me. I trusted the experts and ended up in the nightmare of autism. Was I really expected to march my sons into certain death waving only the flag of someone elses credentials??? Really? For us “Expertise“ ended the day you could not provide explanation, guidance, solutions,or reasons. I was devoid of these things as well....that makes us peers-NOTHING MORE. I found answers and was persecusted for doing so...that makes us enemies. Is that googles fault? There would not be anthing to “discover“ on google if experts were infallible. A true educated expert admits when they have been wrong. I had to relearn what an expert was. I changed with what life handed me (as many of us have!). Hardly sanctimonious.

Thanks for another "wow" moment that got me hooked on AofA in the first place.

I think people over-rely on experts because they are afraid of trusting their own knowledge/instincts. But as you suggest, access to knowledge is more available than ever, so perhaps this is changing...

To quote Nelson Mandela:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine..."

Jeff C - my thoughts exactly.

In the past week the "experts" have told the citizens in West Virginia that the water is safe, though people are still getting sick and no one knows the long term effects of consuming this chemical. The dr. interviewed on tv, telling everyone it is safe to drink, admitted that HIS children were not yet drinking the water.

The experts themselves make it hard to believe what they say.

@ British Mum,
As a UK resident I too am puzzled by Dr Clare Gerada's statement:- "It was linking GP records to hospital records that finally enabled scientists to debunk the assertion that MMR injections and autism were linked."

I have received many communications from the UK health departments. Virtually all of them quote the Madsen et al Danish study, (which involved fugitive Poul Thorsen, indicted for fraud in the US), as the 'debunking' research.

In the UK, some hospital data, ie scan and lab reports now go directly to GPs, as do discharge summaries for patients referred to hospitals for surgery and other treatments, but vaccinations in the UK are almost exclusively the remit of the primary care health facilities, which include GPs, the latter also responsible for referring patients to hospitals or other assessment centres including those which deal with autism diagnoses.

Amateurs built the ark , professionals built the Titanic.

My copy of Saturday's "The Times" (London) on p.28 has the "Thunderer" column, this time written by Dr Clare Gerada who recently chaired the Royal College of General Practitioners. The general subject has the heading "Share your data with the NHS. It's safe and beneficial" and is mostly about the proposed sharing of personal data within the UK's National Health Service (she's in favour). However, the following sentence is also included:- "It was linking GP records to hospital records that finally enabled scientists to debunk the assertion that MMR injections and autism were linked."

I cannot write the necessary letter to "The Times" asking which scientists were analysing which hospital records because my adult ASD child has demanded my public silence on their condition (they have that legal right). Is anyone in the "Age of Autism" readership able to point me in the direction of such studies? Interestingly it has been noted among autism parents in the UK that reports to family doctors of adverse vaccination reactions have not been formally noted in the child's records.

@Shelley

Compare the reaction of the Church to Gutenberg's printing press with the rants of today's experts. Gutenberg made it possible for common folks to read the Bible themselves rather than blindly accepting the words of Church hierarchy (the "experts" of that age) regarding God's will. Martin Luther, Protestantism, and the reformation all resulted, the Church was not amused as their power was greatly diminished.

History repeats.

"Over at thefederalist.com, Tom Nichols is not amused. “I fear we are witnessing the ‘death of expertise’"........I wonder if the experts felt the same way when the general public began to have easy access to books and could read for themselves?

I'm not sure when the modern idea of expertise developed as we know it. I suspect that it was fairly recently, maybe in the past 1 to 2 hundred years. I believe John Gatto addresses the phenomena. The experts act as though and even claim that mankind has depended on their ilk for survival and development from day 1. Their exclusivity and sociological control has been built on carefully guarded knowledge draped in terminology meant to baffle the common man and keep them propped up high in positions of power. The internet has lifted the veil and allowed all to see what the experts know, and how they know it. Terminology is now easy to decode. No degrees necessary. They can kick and scream all they want. The short age of the expert is coming to an end.

You said it!

From the movie "Good Will Hunting" -

“You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on an education you coulda’ picked up for a dollar fifty in late charges at the Public Library.”

____

If knowledge is power, and knowledge is now available to everyone, then power is available to everyone.

There are multiple sources of power. Some people want and need to minimize the value of knowledge, because it's a power not as dependent on and not as easily controlled by the other sources of power (money and intimidation.)

The age of experts isn't over, we still need specialists to do specialized jobs. For example, we don't want the next large bridge designed by folks googling "suspension bridge" rather than someone with formal engineering training.

What absolutely is over is the age of people unthinkingly obeying the largely self-appointed experts without doing their own research first. People have lost trust in the experts due to the inherent conflict of interests many of these experts have. The more conflicted the expert is, the more likely the expert is overstating the effectiveness and understating the consequences of whatever it is this expert says we must do.

This pattern repeats over and over in the medical industry in particular, but is present anywhere that human behavior and choices drive profits. It is so much easier to tell people they must do something rather than convince them they should do something. Now with information available at their fingertips, people are checking it out themselves rather than taking the experts word. Turns out much of what is presented as "fact" is actually propaganda.

A skeptical citizenry is healthy for society but it makes it makes life harder for those trying to separate us from our money.

Experts this week have concluded the death of Philip Hoffman as "sudden actor death syndrome."

The heroin needle found in his arm is "just a coincidence" and cannot be proven to be causal.

The efforts this week to make American drug dealers legally responsible for their injected products is unfounded, and there is no reason this profitable group should not enjoy the same "rights and liability free privileges" as the vaccine industry.

Great article!

"Yes, it’s true that experts can make mistakes, as disasters from thalidomide to the Challenger explosion tragically remind us."

Dan's "right on target" response: "that’s putting mildly. The Challenger and thalidomide were not exactly minor moments in the history of technology and medicine."

Consider:

In 1957 Thalidomide was "sold over the counter" to pregnant women as a means to treat morning sickness. The eventual negative effects of Thalidomide led to the development of more structured drug regulations and control over drug use and development.

(Which did nothing to prevent Agent Orange, Vioxx, etc .. but .. I digress)

After the Challenger disaster .. the Rogers Commission investigation .. found NASA's organizational culture and decision-making processes were key contributing factors to the diaster .. as evidenced by "experts" who had warned that Morton Thiokol's design of the critical "O-ring" contained a potentially catastrophic flaw since 1977 .. and .. failed to address it properly.

And so, there were lessons to be learned from BOTH incidents .. which have become "case studies" in how to avoid such "expert driven diasters in the future".

In my opinion .. the main lesson to be learned is it takes far more than "degree, pedigree and peer-reviewed expertise" of the "experts" involved to prevent diasters such as these.

Such as .. BOTH diasters could have been avoided had "experts" involved had the "moral, ethical and personal integrity" to reveal data that would likely .. if revealed .. would surely diminish the PROFIT of the company or the REPUTATION of the organization they were employed by.

To me .. there is a vast distinction between a "mistake" .. and .. an "expert" deliberately manipulating or witholding data .. that raises serious "safety" concerns of the PRODUCT or PROJECT's SAFETY to the unsuspecting public that will suffer the consequences.

Indeed, how is anyone supposed to accept the UNQUESTIONED word of an "expert" .. when common sense dictates "experts" are human beings .. subject to the same "integrity, moral or ethical flaws" as the rest of us?

In my opinion .. only the GODS have no such flaws .. all else .. trust but verify.

Well said! The experts have no intensional if disclosing what "autism" really is and the damage it causes to the brain and body.

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