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Autism Awareness... and Misinformation

Why in the world CNN and many other media outlets decided to give "equal time" to various autism experts like Jenny McCarthy is beyond me. This is like giving equal time to the Flat Earth Society when discussing El Niño and ocean currents. McCarthy, Kirby, and others are
using Autism Awareness Day to promote misinformation, speculation, and conspiracy theories.

I was going to rant and rave, but I know the anti-vaccine mob will never be convinced of anything. We could present a thousand reports on genetic predisposition, genetic triggers, and alternative environmental factors... it would not matter. Some, like myself, believe there are environmental triggers, but the popular media can't write a story without mentioning MMR vaccines.

Autism clusters in California overlap specific agricultural crops. This points to anything from soil contamination to the residual pesticides wafting in the local air. Who knows? I certainly would be curious to map asthma and autism, too. There are a lot of potential triggers to investigate. But, no... let's worry about vaccines.

Among the idiocy on CNN: Animals don't get vaccines and you don't see plagues among them.

Actually, you do see mass die-offs of various species. Humans are not alone in experiencing plagues — but we don't always notice when animals die in massive numbers. Even plants suffer from sudden epidemics, usually spread by insects or animals indirectly. Massive areas of oak, pine, and elm have died in California and other states.

Other nonsense: Autism rates are higher in the United States.

We don't know that. Other nations don't have the epidemiological resources we have. Do you really think the autism case counts in other regions are accurate? As if we can believe Chinese statistics? We still can't get accurate TB numbers from several continents, and TB is a definite health threat. Autism is a lot harder to diagnose and count than TB cases.

Anyway, I'm just exhausted with the media. They tell heartbreaking stories, spread anecdotes that are not evidence... and people increasingly distrust doctors, researchers, and the overall health system. (And these people think national health care would be more open and honest???)

No matter what scientists report, no matter how many peer-review journal articles verify the results, people will question science. It's amazing.


  1. I think possibly 'media personalities' often trump science, more's the pity.

  2. Jenny McCarthy was particularly annoying tonight on Larry King Live.

    She acts like she is an expert about everything austism and thinks the reason why a majority of doctors disagree with her is because of some elaborate conspiracy.

    I forget, whats her "expert" background? Oh yeah, shes a porn star for Playboy and a movie actor.

  3. C.S. Wyatt,
    Great post. You summed up a lot of things that I had been thinking about in a half-formulated way but had not been able to put together so well.

    There are some papers and some reporters that I still check, but the way it's going my opinion is steering in the direction of General Sherman's.



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