Interverbal On California, Bart On Deth

16 Jan

I’m privileged to be visited on this blog by a number of people far, far cleverer than me who can take very careful examinations of provided materials and highlight the problems with them.

Bartholomew Cubbins has taken the time to provide video reviews of (so far) two of the key papers underpinning the autism/thiomersal hypothesis – Burbacher et al and Waly et al. They are very accessible, even to non-scientists, and because they’re video, you can pause to look up new words as you need to.

Interverbal is a blog run by Jonathan Semetko. Jonathan conducts reviews of statements and theories that apply to autism. His latest post touches on the use of California DDS numbers as used by several people to justify the existence of an autism epidemic.

As I’ve discussed previously, whats important in these numbers is intakes of 3 – 5 yo. This is because these are/will be cases post-thiomersal e,g after the vast majority of thiomersal has been removed from vaccines. This point was conceded by David Kirby in an email to blogger Citizen Cain when he admitted:

if the total number of 3-5 year olds in the California DDS system has not declined by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the autism-thimerosal hypothesis. He also conceded that total cases among 3-5 year olds, not changes in the rate of increase is the right measure.

NB: The date of 2007 is contentious, there seems to be some validity to the claim that Kirby stated that 2005 was the year to watch, not 2007. I hope to clarify this once and for all fairly soon. Rick Rollens has definitely claimed 2005 was the year to watch.

Last week, California DDS published their quarterly figures and as usual people strove to extract meaning from them. Ginger at Adventures In Autism produced a graph showing that the rate of increase was decreasing.

Unfortunately, the data Ginger used to plot her graphs included _all_ age groups, not just 3 – 5 year olds. As we’ve seen, this cohort is the only one that can indicate whether the post-thiomersal generation numbers are decreasing or not. Thiomersal has been very substantially reduced for this age group so a change should be clear.

However, just as Citizen Cain blogged last year in July, Jonathan shows that the rate for this cohort is still increasing.

So now advocates of the thiomersal/autism hypothesis are in a quandary. Their source data is plainly inaccurate, a point admitted by Kirby. If we are therefore to conclude that (as many in the autism/thiomersal camp claim) that the reduction in thiomersal is causing a drop in numbers then they have to abandon the ‘safety net’ position of the remaining thiomersal in flu vaccines being responsible for a maintenance or even increase in autism cases. The reverse, of course, is also true – those who claim that flu in thiomersal means more autistics will be ‘created’ cannot claim that these figures indicate a drop.

Of course, the probability that neither of these cases are true is the ‘best fit’ – autism cases are still rising and these figures only show a reflection on cases that are known to California DSS and cannot reflect one way or the other the state of prevalence in that state.

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16 Responses to “Interverbal On California, Bart On Deth”

  1. Ian Parker January 17, 2006 at 00:17 #

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m baffled that either side is spending so much time trying to prove a point using data that (according to its source) clearly does not represent anything other than the caseload (and changes over time) of the California DDS?

    And the correlation of those data to the true incidence of autism is???

    What can either side reasonably hope to prove, other than “my manipulation and interpretation of data used out of context is more intellectually rigorous than yours”?

    I think these efforts say a lot more about the ongoing autism “debate” than they do about autism.

  2. Ms Clark January 17, 2006 at 00:50 #

    Likely, none of us would know about the DDS quarterly reports but for the efforts of Rick Rollens. He is quoted in the book “evidence of harm” as saying that these very quarterly reports are the “gold standard” for autism epidemiology.

    Can we all pause and let that sink in for a moment?

    “The gold standard”

    So, why do the mercury parents use the DDS numbers to argue their point? Because Rick, through David Kirby, told them that this is where their hopes and the TRUTH are to be found.

    So many people have believed this “gold standard” misrepresentation (lie?) that it can’t be ignored.

    When I was at the Fombonne presentation I said during the comment session that when they take out the thimerosal (in various countries at different times) they don’t see the numbers of new autistics fall, and right then the mercury dad who called Fombonne “the antichrist” (though not to Fombonne’s face) held up a piece of paper with Rollens’ graph on it, the one that Ginger has on her blog now, basically, that shows the decline in the rate of INCREASE and waved it a bit and yelled back at me (interrupting my turn to speak) that the “numbers do so drop!”

    He was using Rollens’ own graph from the DDS quarterly reports, the “gold standard,” to prove a nothing. “Sound and fury, signifying nothing” and all that. But he was all lit up with his righteous indignation and calls Fombonne, a highly qualified expert on the epidemiology of autism, the antichrist. The rest of the people in the audience who aren’t familiar with that graph, how it was produced and Rollens misuse of the data, probably though that “Mr. antichrist” was correct and that I was a “pharmco shill.” Luckily they didn’t get to my car in the parking lot and flatten the tires or cut the brake lines … after all I was in league with the “antichrist,” wasn’t I?

    Kathleen and Anne both saw the antichrist dad at the Bauman presentations and I joined a conversation he was having with Dr. Amaral about the ATN… wherein they are looking for the autistic 2 year olds that should be exceedingly hard to find now, if they aren’t gone altogether, according to predictions made by Rollens et al.

  3. Jonathan Semetko January 17, 2006 at 02:51 #

    Hi Kev,

    Thank you for the very kind words and for the link.

  4. Jonathan Semetko January 17, 2006 at 03:06 #

    Hi Ian,

    Like Ms. Clark said, the DDS gets touted as the best of the best. You may recognize that these data represent case loads, many other persons (on completely different “sides”) do not. I suspect that they would go to great lengths to disagree with you.

    By criticizing the errors I see in the interpretation of those data and by graphing them in a manner that does not miss the variation present in this case; I am able to make a better case that these data are case loads rather than the “gold standard”.

    This problem effects the way autistic kids get talked about e.g. (A tsunami or plague) and is cited as a proof that vaccines caused autism. If one recognizes that there is a problem and fails to speak up and point out the problems in detail then, I would argue that one has left the path of ethics.

  5. Bartholomew Cubbins January 17, 2006 at 04:27 #

    Kev, I wish to thank you as well for the kind words.

    I’d also like to say that I think Ian has hit on a good point about the debate – it’s rather shocking how autism has attracted such controversy, such feelings of disdain, hatred, anger and actions of retribution and hero worship (I’m going to avoid this post being consumed by analyzing the ego issues). Where is this for peanut allergies? Where is this for childhood brain cancer? The roots of these disorders are unknown too (I’m not commenting on disease/condition/disorder nomenclature and assignment). What is so unusual about the autism condition that it warrants these issues?

    And I think that maybe it comes to this: is there anyone claiming to cure peanut allergies? Is there anyone claiming to cure brain cancer? For peanuts I know of nothing. For cancer, I’ve heard of many sorts of “cures” but I argue that these fringe treatments are vastly less publicized than are autism treatments. The relevance is that when some people believe that others are being taken for a ride, and some of those riding believe that the bystanders ought to bud out, the yelling starts.

    Another aspect I see is that Johnny Knoxville isn’t making movies by pretending he has a peanut allergy so he can get into the Special Olympics. People with developmental disabilities are biased against, pure and simple.

    Back to the topic of the post, in my mind Jonathan seems to have a love for numbers. He’s interested in seeing them interpreted without embellishment. I commend him for it and for what it’s worth I bet he’d be as happy as anyone else if he found that the numbers were going down too.

  6. Ms Clark January 17, 2006 at 06:33 #

    Are there conspiracy theories being promoted in a book about peanut alleriges or cancer in children?

    Parents of autistic children are a group known to have higher numbers of OCD and bipolar people in them. I don’t think the same can be said about peanut allergy or brain cancer “parents.” This can not be overlooked when analyzing the behavior of some of the parents. It’s obsessive and sometimes cyclical.

    Autism allows for this sort of vague interpretation of the word “cure”. The kids that Bernie Rimland parades out onto stage were not all necessarily autistic. It’s a stunt. We don’t know what the kids were like when they were younger, but even if they are autistic, all they need to do is develop language enough to engage in a childish form of chit chat on stage and they can be pronounced *cured* by Rimland.

    Rimland’s own son can do that same kind of scripted chit chat but he isn’t called “cured” for some reason. The older kids he had in the last batch were in no way normal, but they’ve been pressured to say that they “used to be autistic” in front of a crowd and cameras. And that’s all that some people need to go rushing headlong into biomed.

    In my opinon we see:

    * A well fleshed-out conspiracy theory so you can dismiss all peer reviewed science as the product of evil men. I don’t think the peanut allergy or brain cancer people have one of these…

    • Autstic children who actually do grow up and learn to talk, with, and sometimes without, “interventions”. They are children who can fake normal in certain situations (childhood cancer kids can’t fake a blood test or brain scan), schools that are willing to strip a child of his diagnosis so that they can stop spending extra money on him, kids who are still getting extra help in school are called “cured” if their parents decide to call him “cured”.

    • Fear of admission of having defective genes on the part of the parents, might be there in peanut allergies and cancer, but the information is out there (in peer reviewedl literature) that parents of autistics frequently have milder forms of autism or mental illness. That’s good reason to deny that it’s genes… and push for an outside cause that says nothing about the stability or sanity of the parents.

    • Big money behind a handful of parents who have their egos on the line now, and big lawsuit money in front of a large number of parents who believe their kids were poisoned because of info on the Internet placed there by antivaxers in some cases who have their own agenda…some of those in line for money might have totally concocted their stories in order to get in on the dough. I know someone who’s sister got a big payoff for having breast implants. That sister never had her implants removed, but took the money, because it was sitting there with her name on it. She didn’t believe that her implants had hurt her, but she took the money. People lie to get money. I had a cousin who got killed because he was drinking on the job, and his wife sued someone for his death and got a huge payoff all the while hiding that her deceased husband was drunk and killed himself out of stupidity. I don’t think there are class action lawsuits driving peanut allergy parents.

    • Parents who find out that they’ve been “had” by quacks usually don’t come forward and get interviewed on TV, they are frequently burnt out by the lies and have bigger fish to fry than to get involved in trying to set the new suckers straight. Their silence is golden for those who want to perpetuate the “chelation cures autism” stuff.

    I don’t know if those are the main reasons, but there is something different about this gang…part of it is that the parents decided to go single-mindedly after the “black robed conspirators” and forgot that they were bashing and badly impacting the lives of independent autistic adults at the same time with their “hollow shell” “poisoning victim” rhetoric.

    I wrote an email to a cable news program “talking head”. He had handed Kirby this gold plated opportunity to mislead the public when he said in his interview of Kirby, “Yes, and we know that this same thing with thimerosal causing an autism epidemic has happened in the U.K.”
    Kirby nodded and said, “why yes!” (or words to that effect)

    So I yelled at Mr. “Talking Head” cable news guy and told him he had stated a total lie (by mistake), that Kirby knew it was wrong and that Kirby just agreed…

    Mr. Cable news guy said, “you have no right to be upset, we had people from “your side” at the table as well as people from “their side”… (they had invited some doctor to tell medical establishment/government/rational side).

    I told Mr. Cable news guy, “Wrong! If I had a ‘side’ it wasn’t represented at your ‘table’ at all. You never asked the autistic adults what they thought of this epidemic/conspiracy talk… and since you are talking about ME don’t you think I ought to have at least a tiny say in this???

    Mr. Cable news guy got the point. Too little too late, of course. But other news people have picked up the autistic adult viewpoint and, of course, that muddies the pure conspiracy/poisoning story as well as the “mainstream scientists will cure autism eventually” story.

    Then it gets really ugly because if one admits to being on the autism spectrum, one is labelled as poisoned/damaged and/or mentally ill and/or a pharmco shill, and here we go again… even if one is also the parent of an autistic child…

    I’m afraid that only deaths and gross maiming of many children from “biomed” will stop the insane rush to cure autistic kids with “biomed.” Maybe if insurance companies would stop paying for the blood tests and chelation, as some do… There’s a mumps outbreak in Wales, now. If “regular” parents see their babies die and suffer because “autism parents” and their allies haven’t vaxed their kids and are spreading stuff like whooping cough and rubella… there will be enough rage on the part of the “normal” parents who lose their babies to frighten off the quacks into switiching to curing “aging” or something else.

    Right now the quacks keep this going as much as the mercury parents do.

  7. M January 17, 2006 at 09:41 #

    On Ms Clark’s point about blaming external rather than internal factors – a lot of that comes back to the raging prejudice there is around mental illness or any sort of mental ‘defect’. It’s ok to admit that you have the genes for peanut allergy, or even the genes for breast cancer; you are seen as unfortunate, but nothing more. But to admit that, for example, mental illness runs in your family? Or autism runs in your family? You’re exposing yourself to deep prejucides, prejudices that can affect things like your ability to get a job.

  8. María Luján January 17, 2006 at 14:42 #

    Hi
    I think that Ginger and Jon made the best of their effort and tried to analyze these data with care. Having California ,and in general USA, the best Statistics about Autism from state services around whole America, in some way isn´t it the best available as database from educational services in USA?
    I acknowledge them both a lot their effort , time and commitment to present in a clear way these data (graphics, curves, etc) and to analyze them with a personal view. Jonathan´s work was excellent, a model of polite disagreement sticking to science.
    Can today we say that a decrease in the youngest children with ASD took place in 2005? No, following the data, in fact the prevalence is still on the rise in the youngest following Jonathan analysis. Can today we say that a decrease in the total number took place in 2005?No, a deaceleration following the Jonathan opinion. Interpretation of them to make absolute conclussions-there is an epidemic, there is not; there is a decrease there is not- depends on personal opinions but I do not know how stick these personal opinions to what these data show from an epidemiological-scientific- point of view.
    The sad point is that even ANY epidemiological study about autism will have the effect of some bias in the data used to analyze trend or prevalence in a country or at a global level. I am talking about diagnosis, changes of diagnosis and TRUE number of ASD children vs number of DIAGNOSIS of ASD children vs REPORTED total number of diagnosed ASD Children in some database that is used to make the epidemiological study. .
    At this point, I do not know if we have an epidemic or not, following the epidemiology-because of the detected flaws and problems of manipulation on all of them looking at the manuscripts and their criticisms and all the considerations I presented above. Epidemiologists say the incidence of ASD is the same before and today. Ok, I respect them but I have doubts, serious doubts about the questions they do when they plan their studies on ASD. As always, I accept that you can disagree. I do not know what is the real value of DDS data. If all the variables are not considered and we suppose we have A….to Z variables to analyze that collaborate in the number of ASD reported. How can overall changes in numbers, even per age, be assigned to E or F, neglecting all the other points? How can be a change assigned to something if there are other unknown numbers of variables that must be considered to obtain conclussions? How can be a number being reported analyzed to obtain conclussions about E if perhaps the change took place because of P-J-D, unnoticed, unanalyzed and perhaps unreported/unknown as a variable?
    Again, I have problems with the questions that are done to the data.
    The wrong question for me is is
    Can vaccines or thimerosal or Al or antibiotics or Pb, heavy metals, pollutants etc cause Autism? What is the number of ASD with the database used at a population global level?
    One of the potentially more useful for me to test the issues that worried us could be
    What vaccines-Antibiotics, heavy metals,pesticides,etc do to an autistic child, susceptible from birth, different in his/her genetics from birth, comparing him/her to neurotypical children? Have the number AND the relative severity of ASD symptoms changed in the time to suspect a worse environmental insult last 30 years?
    For me the management of the data to answer questions like the last ones, the strategy must be different because we are supposing different individuals –genetically and even in ASD with a lot of heterogenity- and not the same facing some environmental insult (vaccines, thimerosal, Al, xenobiotics, whatever). It seems to me that you can use number of diagnoses respect of general population if the first questions are done to evaluate risks, not causality (OK?). You need a lot more information if the other questions are done and probably data you do not have TODAY.
    It seems to me that this is a circular problem.You do not have the data-biomarkers- at a population level to make the unknown- right questions- or there is no scientific proven evidence to them so you can not do it following scientific standards because of the present state of the science in ASD. So you propose questions that you can answer with data you have and what is accepted- the first 2 I presented… but the data you have seem are not enough convincing and the answers have a lot of criticisms so you perform another study.. with the same because you have not more data than total number of reported ASD children under a/several diagnosis criteria…and if you have not the right questions you will never have other data because , at the present state of the things who are doing different questions in epi studies if the science about environmental insult as a component in ASD due to genetics and because of increased susceptibility- for example- is lacking of scientific proof conclusive and growing slowly? Who are going to test markers of immune system to newborns, markers of biochemical imbalances or oxidative stress that could be markers of predisposition to have ASD upon insult-when and if there are such a thing.. if there are no known test for autism- such as in the case of phenylketonury or hypothyroidism to be useful for an epi study? And you will have not more money to research if the environmental insult is not identified and it will not be identified with the current epi studies …GUESS!! Because you are not doing the right questions and on and on and on. It is a circular problem, because there are so much we do not know about ASD TODAY for sure.Clues that need validation ( anecdotal evidence for science), some published evidence and no proofs. I think that this problem is related to the shift of the consideration of autism from a psychological problem to a biological problem of genetic root because of the research of the last 25 years. Only one idea.
    In this sense, the educational data and epidemiological studies only are looking at the resulting combination of medical, political and sociological aspects, now and before, that can affect seriously the analysis of data and the data themselves, being them then incomplete to obtain conclussions for me. Even when the scientists doing them can be irreprochable and the scientific method correctly or excelently applied we have problem with data, questions and conclussions..The only conclusion I can have is that their value is relative, even important, and they will have – or not- confirmation when further basic research clarify the role of the environmental insult in ASD beyond genetics in parallel to epi studies. In that time then, the right questions will be done in epi studies and we will have some answers from epidemiology.
    Mrs Clark, many of us will never go to a lawsuit , accept that the problem is genetic in our children and want to improve our children´s life quality, not “cure” them -genetics can not change-but trying that they are the best autistics they can be. Many of us have a lot of care about being lied or try to stick to science as much as we can. I think that we can not generalize. Not all biomedical information is bad and it depends on how is applied, by who , why and when and where (labs). Treating comorbilities imply the need to detect them first. I think that many children teens and adults with ASD suffer a lot of pain because many doctors do no take the time to search for comorbilities because “it is the autism”. However, although I can respectfully disagree with you in the tone, you present several very good points about, for example
    Then it gets really ugly because if one admits to being on the autism spectrum, one is labelled as poisoned/damaged and/or mentally ill and/or a pharmco shill, and here we go again… even if one is also the parent of an autistic child…
    Your concern about how autistic adults are consulted or not is important for me.Having the responsability of the care of my son, I always wonder if what I think is better for him is really what is better for him. I have to live with my decissions about.
    María Luján

  9. clone3g January 17, 2006 at 16:57 #

    Come on Maria, if you’ve got something to say, just say it. I sense that you’re holding back…..

  10. María Luján January 17, 2006 at 17:17 #

    No, clone3g, I am only being honest. I am not holding back. I sustain all I told.
    Sincerely
    MAría Luján

  11. Ian Parker January 17, 2006 at 17:29 #

    Hi Jonathan,

    I’m not suggesting that you fail to speak up. Instead, I’d suggest that the way to deal with the issue would be to point out that:

    a) the numbers represent the actual DDS caseload count over time, and changes therein;
    b) based on both scientific estimates of the prevalence of autism and the stated position of the DDS, the numbers should not be considered a true representation of the incidence of autism in California;
    c) given the discrepancy in the size of the DDS caseload, vs. scientific estimates of the incidence of autism, the number of cases of autism that are unaccounted for is enough to render any argument of either a correlation between DDS numbers and the incidence of autism, or changes in the incidence of autism, as unprovable using this data; and
    d) the variation in the DDS caseload over time arguably represents changes in diagnostic criteria, DDS policies and procedures, and (insert other here) at least as much, if not more, than any variation in the underlying rate of autism.

    As such, the use of this data to draw inferences regarding changes in the rate of autism in California will produce results that cannot be considered valid.

    By stating a better worded version of the above I would suggest that you could challenge the misuse of the data, and any inferences drawn from them, without giving those incorrectly using then the credibility of providing an alternate interpretation using the same source.

    To me the ethical issue is the number of people that do not have access to support. This is where maybe all sides could agree?

    Disagreeing, of course, as to what that support should entail.

  12. María Luján January 17, 2006 at 18:55 #

    clone3g
    If you want and are interested, I can complete my explanation about your post. I do not want to be misunderstood anyway. As it is off topic and considering this is KEv´s blog, please let me know if you are interested. I sent you 2 e-mails by Kev´s forum but I do not know if you received them.
    BTW if you are not interested sorry if I disturbed you.
    María Luján

  13. Ms Clark January 17, 2006 at 19:14 #

    We know that Fombonne is part of the axis of evil… and all… but one of his big points is that the IDEA data (school age kids in the US) show that the kids impacted by ASDs are NOT getting support.

    He is stating that there is a “high and stable rate” for ASDs at about 1 in 166 (for decades, come on now, many of these kids have ASD parents what does that tell you about “historical rates”) BUT only Oregon and if I remember correctly, Minnesota, have rates of offering help to kids under the ASD label at anywhere near 1 in 166.

    Oregon has about 1 in 200. Most states show about 1 in 400, if I remember right. Of course, some ASD kids might get services under, “speech and language difficulties” (I think that’s a category in the IDEA) or something else, but why aren’t they labelled correctly and what does that mean for the kids on the “front line”?

    You can see how politically motivated the counting of kids and adults is. You can’t use politically influenced data to count autistics.

    This is just so obvious, but there are people who are deeply invested in the IDEA data and the California data. Nothing will stop them, apparently, from abusing this data.

    Because they can get away with presenting (very deceptive) graphs showing these sharp increases in counts of autistics…

    and because they get the cooperation from the press,

    … a pretty newsreader says to the camera, “And the Autism Society of America says that the IDEA numbers prove that an epidemic of autism has crushed, no, utterly demolished, the local school districts of our fine nation….”

    and they get the repsonse they want (money from various sources for research into mercury or whatever)

    they keep using these data to manipulate the public.

    Anyone who challenges this gross and very obvious abuse of the data is screamed at and called names.

    The behavior of people who use this data to hound the public with fears of an epidemic (your child may be NEXT!!!) is psychotic, in my opinion, but they have the ears of the media… though that is starting to change and eventually there will be a “boy who cried wolf” reaction to all this

    and whining manipulative parents will say, “blah blah autism—” and the public will snap, “Shut up! We’re sick of you!!!” And again, the autistics are the losers.

  14. Kev January 17, 2006 at 21:16 #

    _”Maybe it’s just me, but I’m baffled that either side is spending so much time trying to prove a point using data that (according to its source) clearly does not represent anything other than the caseload (and changes over time) of the California DDS?”_

    You’re absolutely right Ian. Unfortunately Citizen Cain, Autism Diva, myself and others (including now Jonathon) have had this issue ‘forced’ on us. The whole thing started from abysmal representation of the numbers by one Rick Rollens who used the same sort of data as Ginger to press his theory that the incidence of autism was first rising (pre-Hg removal) and then declining (post-Hg removal).

    As a lot of us have noted over the last 12 months, its clearly fallacious to use the California numbers in the way that Rollens does and simply muddies the waters – hence we (not that I speak for anyone else you understand) feel we have to provide a bit of clarity.

  15. Jonathan Semetko January 18, 2006 at 06:51 #

    Hi Ian,

    Thank you for your well thought message with obvious good intentions. Also, thank you for lending advice that you argued would be of service.

    However, I greatly disagree.

    I will explain why addressing your “a,b,c” bulleting.

    But first, you should be aware that I did not argue that these DDS data represent a true picture of epidemiological facts in California. This was stated in my post. To assess data via graphs and stats and compare them to a given claim is not the same as declaring them a useful data set to assess a given claim.

    A: We agree about the factual information in this point. The DDS has clearly stated what the DDS reports are and are not. However, being logical thinkers, we should not solely take their word for it and should look for ourselves to see in what ways this system seems to be (dis)similar from the descriptive epidemiology.

    The claims about what the DDS show have been (Courtesy of Mr. Rollens and the EoHarm group) loud and direct. It becomes necessary to assess the data if one will make a claim about them.

    We need to analyze. The most popular two ways of doing this are by statistical and graphical analysis. I used both. I am an advocate for simple descriptive stats and direct measures for my graphs. When the data are assessed one should share them, so others can comment on them or criticize them, depending on what is merited.

    B: The DDS apparently only serves a portion of those dx’ed with Autistic Disorder. One could guess that their prevalence is still somewhat near the mean of the Autistic Disorder epi studies that cam post 1999. The epi mean prevalence and the DDS prevalence are very nearly the same. The difference is not statistically significant. You can read (or re-read) my post to see the numbers. It is the prevalence for the whole spectrum that is different.

    C: What is the incidence of autism via the epi? What is the incidence of the autism via the DDS? How would one know if they are dissimilar if they fail to calculate them both? Graphing, buy the way, helps show trend over time and allows for patterns to be spotted that can not be observed via descriptive/inferential stats.

    D: I agree with you on this point (D). the variation is important and reflects the things you mention. However, it is by graphing these data sequentially that this pattern is identifiable. The comments on my post in particular got into this. Many of the significant trends were explained (they have not been explained elsewhere) in response to seeing this presentation of the data.

    I think that some of the point you raise (variation) could only be concluded by a thorough assessment of the data (statistical or graphical). If you failed to do this then your premise is unsubstantiated.

    If we answer claims that are supposedly from data with unsubstantiated claims, then we may have drifted onto ad hoc fallacies and away from logic. I dissent from this.

    I agree that theyway we treat autistic persons is a critical ethical point. It is not nearly the only ethical point that concerns me however, as stated.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  16. HN February 10, 2006 at 03:49 #

    I did not know which of the most recent comments in the “mercury” section to put this. This seemed most appropriate in that it shows some indication of how far the “Mercury Mania” is going.

    This evening I stumbled on this article in Medscape (requires free registration), http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/520832

    The part I found intersesting was this sentence: ” However, the survey showed that concerns with mercury have decreased considerably, likely a result of extensive educational efforts by the AAP over the past few years.”

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