Thursday, February 12, 2009

Big Autism Newsy Day

Three big stories coming from the world of autism today. The biggest is that the Special Masters in the U.S. federal Autism Omnibus proceeding denied compensation for vaccine-related injury to three petitioners who asserted that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine caused their childrens' autism. These three cases were test cases for around 5,000 other cases under the vaccine injury program. They involved only claims about the MMR vaccine; claims regarding the use of thimerosol in vaccines, and on vaccines in general, have yet to be decided. Today's decisions certainly don't bode well for the petitioners in those cases.

Key elements of today's decisions:

1) This wasn't close. The decisions blasted the quality of the petitioners' evidence. The most excellent and sublime Kathleen Seidel has more on this at Neurodiversity.
2) These cases were subject to a pretty light burden of proof, one that has been characterized as "50 percent plus a feather." The petitioners didn't meet that burden. Thus, these cases didn't come close to meeting a greatly diminished standard than many legal decisions.

Advocates of the purported--and now thoroughly, fatally debunked--link between vaccines and autism are having difficulty dealing with this. Many of them are still silent (the decisions are, at this writing, less than 12 hours old), and many are falling back on conspiracy theories, faulty logic, and straw men. Just STFU, and let's get on with treatment research, increased funding for behavioral interventions, and public education into how best to help those on the autism spectrum fit into the alien planet they find themselves on (and how best to help us aliens fit with them).

This last is tricky. Another story--this is actually a few days old, but I heard it today, so it's news to me--comes from Ohio, where an 18-year-old severely autistic man is in jail and under indictment and alleged to have killed his mother (h/t Kristina Chew). This is a seriously fucking sad story. This kid is likely rotting in jail wondering where Mommy is. The likelihood that he meant her harm is almost nil; it's inconceiveable that he could've had the capacity to mean her harm. And judging from some of the comments on the story linked above, there is a serious shitload of assholes in Ohio.

While sad, the story is indicative of nothing, typical of nothing, and will cause Ilse's ex, the incomparably stupid Oafus, to continue pustulating that Bam-Bam--who is by no means severely dysfunctional--needs to be fucking institutionalized. Fuckface.

Finally--and this is today's news--comes a tale of woe involving ourside hero Keith Olbermann, who really stuck his dick in a cheese grater. Olbermann first invoked the name of Andrew Wakefield, a British physician and noted liar and falsifier of research data who singlehandedly caused the MMR scare that now has unvaccinated children and adolescents dying of measles, as a Worst Person in the World. Wakefield was largely brought down by the journalism of Brian Deer, a...well, journalist. After Olbermann was besieged by antivaccination fucktards such as David Kirby, he decided that Deer himself was a WPITW, alleging that Deer initiated complaints of malfeasance against Wakefield, then profited by writing about them. It appears that Olbermann was also incensed by Deer's crime of working for a Murdoch-owned paper.

One problem: Kirby (who bragged about this on idiocy snotrag HuffPo) and his ilk are lying fucks. Deer wasn't the complainant in the case that brought Wakefield down (I've linked to Orac's coverage of this story as it unfolded, but there are other places you can get the story, lest you be one of my few readers who eschews Orac).

So Olbermann's a stupid fuck, and one who's so paranoid about Murdoch that he'll say anything to slam Old Dead Zombie Ruppert. Yeah, I know, I have trouble getting too excited about that part, too. The point, though, is that while Olbermann appears to have been duped, the con man was David Kirby, who continues to think that research docs are thieves and murderers, while chelators and diet practitioners are holy, who continues to move goalposts and plant untruths, and who continues to champion the very odd notion that the plural of "anecdote" is "data." Fuck you, David Kirby.


Sasha said...

I find myself briefly hopeful that the court case may be noticed by those who only hear the bleating of the anti-vacciniacs. I am so so so very tired of the "I believe it so you must respect that" crowd.

Purplestate said...

Seconding Sasha, and hooray for science, eh?


Anonymous said...

Dood, I hope you're not just now discovering that Ohio has a shitload of assholes. How else can you explain people that keep electing John Boehner and Jean Schmidt?

(Also, didn't you pretend to go to school here at one time? Wasn't that long enough to notice, or were you too incapacitated for the duration?)

My word is "dicapt." apt indeed.

Swami said...

I have nightmares about any kind of contact between my 22 year old son with autism & the police. To channel K Olbermann - that's #1 on my own personal Worst Things In The World!!! list.

Dawn said...

I used to watch Countdown every evening until Olbermann drank the antivaccine/antiscience nuts' Koolaide, read their talking points on his show and attacked award-winning investigative journalist Brian Deer. Mr. Deer deserves a public apology from Olbermann. Of course, I won't hold my breath, but I'll also never watch Countdown again.

J. D. T. Saul said...

This should make you happy.
I was at the game here and adam Foote and John Michael Liles used Crosby and Malkin 5 - 2 Avs. Now if we could only beat ANY team not in the playoffs at the moment.

Landru said...

Scared me for a second when I saw your signature, there, Dawn. You know why. Welcome and thanks.