There's often a lot of talk about Autism Wars when it comes to vaccines and a host of other issues. On the surface, it would appear that we have a real battle on our hands between Chris Mooney of the L.A. Times versus Ginger Taylor of Adventures in Autism and contributor to The Age of Autism. Article vs Article:
- Chris Mooney: Bringing science back into America's sphere (L.A. Times)
- Ginger Taylor: Unscientific Scientists (Adventures in Autism) (also available at Age of Autism: Responding to Chris Mooney in the LAT)
The Contenders: Chris Mooney
- Chris Mooney is a professional journalist and author. Detailed information about his life and work can be found on Wikipedia: Chris Mooney. This guy is all over the place and even appeared made a 2005 appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Chris is for sure the favorite in this battle between the professional and the blogger, the "man of science" versus the pissed off autism mommy.
The gist of his argument here is that according to Chris "Scientists are super smart" and over time often forget that masses are not super smart.
- "Scientists are super smart. And they end up in communities of people like them. Their education level is extremely high and that's what lets them do the great stuff that they do. Over a lifetime, they can sort of forget where everyone else is starting from".
That really should be enough for most of you. Vaccines are in no way related to autism because the super smart guys are always right. Some dumber scientists might think that this is "begging the question" since there are a lot of examples in the past when the public was told that the "super smart" guys were right, it turned out that they were wrong. I suspect that "Super Smart" is scientific term. I'm not a scientist, so I am not sure. Try to stay with me here. A lot of us are familiar with the Super Bowl and of course Super Man. "Super Smart" is derived from the Latin term "eximius smartimus" and is composed of the prefix "Super" which means "of the highest quality, to an extreme degree and "smart" which means "showing mental alertness and calculation and resourcefulness." Ironically, Chris tried to lay some of the blame for all of this confusion on the condescending scientists, but ends up with pretty much the same condescending tone in his article. Look Ginger and the rest of you, they're smart OK. Stop asking so many questions. What is this, the scientific method? Back in the day, we also had newspaper journalists who served as a filter between the scientist and Joe Blow.
Talk about the shrinking science sections in newspapers. That just makes it worse. Even when science journalism was doing better, it had a lot to contend with. To convey the kind of information that needs to be conveyed on really pressing science topics -- you just cannot do this without experienced science writers. It's too hard.
This is where Chris comes back down to our level. While the internet is great and their tons of information and "super smart" science stuff (data, studies, history of "super smart" science guys being wrong; most of us are only capable of reading less than super smart blogs or get most of our science from YouTube. According to Chris, non-Super Smart people are most often attracted to things like rapping science bloggers as their primary source of anything remotely resembling science. Ginger Tayor
- Ginger has a MS is Clinical Counseling from Johns Hopkins University, is a contributor to Age of Autism and has her own blog at Adventures in Autism.
Ginger wrote one of the most thoughtful, to the point and on target rebuttals that this non-scientist has ever read. She may have been the underdog in this fight, but she is the clear winner. While I do suggest that you read her article, I think the title should be changed to Age of Autism: Ripping Chris Mooney a new one). This war of words was over early in Ginger's article with only two short sentences summing up the fact that not only is Chris Mooney confused, he is guilty of the exact things he says the "super smart" guys need to work on.
- I feel like you may have confused actual hard "Science" with "things that most scientists think"
- I would put it to you that it may not the "scientific principles" that are being rejected, but the principles of the scientists.
Back in the good old days of journalism, Chris would be writing for a newspaper. Chris would be our filter and let us know what we need to know about the happenings in the realm of the "super smart" scientists. Chris would probably be telling us about the super smart guys who told us that cigarettes didn't cause cancer and/or that the mandatory vaccine for the impending swine flu pandemic of 1976 was super safe! Back in the old days, we would have been FRICKIN' SCREWED!
J Bradley Borden is the father of an 8 year old daughter with autism whose first round of seizures started after her 4 month vaccines and who had a "smart guy" neurologist tell him "Don't worry, it's probably just acid reflux! He blogs at Autism Parents and The Autism Retort.