The Wizard Of Oprah

21 Sep

Hey, it’s Thursday evening. Why don’t we stop by and see what the cat dragged in over at Rescue Host. Holy Vaccinations Batman! It’s more autism epidemic gibberish! The current installment comes to us from Kelli Ann Davis, who writes:

I knew the day was coming. With numbers like 1 in 150 children and 1 in 94 boys, “it” was bound to happen.

Her “it” apparently refers to the recent appearances of some fellow believers on daytime television. Davis goes on to share some apparent feelings of vindication:

I must of recited “the-numbers-are-getting-larger-and-our-voices-are-getting-louder” mantra at least a bazillion times over the last 5 years, cuz that’s how many meetings it feels like I’ve been in. but it never seemed to resonate.

There’s a good reason it probably didn’t seem to, for Kelli Ann, and doesn’t resonate in general. It’s because there isn’t any data that shows that “the-numbers” are actually getting larger. There is no question that there are indeed many more people being diagnosed as “on the autism spectrum”. But the thing is, the very definition of what professionals say autism is, changed dramatically in the not too distant past – even the conceptualization of autism as a spectrum of disorders is relatively recent development.

I think there’s a reasonable explanation for many of the “vaccines dunnit” voices getting louder. I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon in my own household, and I’m even guilty of it myself from time to time. Sometimes people craving attention (or just needing to be listened to) get louder and louder. Do four or five little children always calmly discuss who should get to go first in a game? Do they always rationally reason with each other about who should have the biggest piece of cake? What about children competing for the attention of a parent? Do they always stop, raise their hands, and quietly wait their turn? My opinion is that it’s often natural to shout. Shouting doesn’t automatically make one incorrect in their assertions, but it doesn’t make one correct either. It’s just shouting.

The difference here is that while shouting like children may garner attention, it does not change scientific reality. It just doesn’t matter if there are a million voices reciting the mantras of a flat earth, an autism ‘epidemic’, or flying saucers. No quantity of repetitive nonsense will construct any assertion’s truth. Without evidence that it is true, a failed hypothesis is doomed to the clutches of a handful of village idiots – and probably inevitably, a few celebrities too.

What does Kelli Ann have for us to demonstrate that “the-numbers-are-getting- larger”? Will it be daytime TV demagoguery?

Okay. So now “it” has arrived….in full Oprah force…..and I’m anxious to see if the “powers that be” FINALLY get “it.”

Ah, the “Appeal to Oprah”. Extremely similar to a simple appeal to popularity, but garnished with a household name that’s guaranteed to stir emotion and draw both media, and popular attention.

Kelli Ann might as well just write:

“Cuz everyone knows, “if you seen ’em on Oprah, they must be right”.

Should the “powers that be” Kelli Ann refers to, whomever or whatever that means, be worried if they don’t “FINALLY get it”? Only if they pay attention to that TV personality behind the curtain. Let’s hope they aren’t fooled into asking for a brain, heart, courage, or a trip home, and instead, ask to see everyone’s data.

5 Responses to “The Wizard Of Oprah”

  1. Sullivan September 21, 2007 at 06:26 #

    Oprah is only the first installment of the national tour. Larry King, People Magazine…

    If all of those are supporting the idea, it must be right! I mean, geez, has Eric Fombonne ever hosted a talk show? Well, why should I listen to him!

  2. Gonzo September 21, 2007 at 13:09 #


    You knew it was going to happen. I’d have somewhat hoped that some semblance of reality would be appeared, but alas…

    The number of people that consider everything that Oprah says to be Gospel is ridiculous. And I’m sure there are a lot of people walking around today that think you can cure autism with diet and not vaccinating because they Saw It On Oprah. I’ve already had a few people reference it to me and quickly change the subject when they see the disgusted look on my face.

    I can’t wait for the rest of the verbal diarrhea on the rest of the book tour.

  3. bev September 21, 2007 at 13:25 #

    “Appeal to Oprah”–love it! Excellent piece of writing,Do’C.

  4. Patrick September 21, 2007 at 21:25 #

    When was their a diagnostic category that seperated the Village Idiots and Celebrities anyhow?

    Shucky darns, I must’ve missed it!

  5. anon September 23, 2007 at 03:48 #

    “Jenny may be no Andrew Wakefield, but I have to give credit where credit’s due. ” from comments on Julie Deardorff’s “Julie’s Health Club”
    It is truly frightening to see the support JM is getting.

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