David, I am not embarrased but puzzled

23 Sep

I just read David Kirby’s short post dig on Age of Autism at the review Dr. Rahul K. Parikh made yesterday on Salon.com. I am quite puzzled by David’s post I have to say.

In his overly simplistic way, this pediatrician from Northern California, who has repeatedly ignored third-party invitations to debate me in an open forum, praises Dr. Paul Offit for his attacks on groups like DAN! and Generation Rescue, while holding up Autism Speaks as a bastion of rational scientific thinking, one that does not succumb to what this doctor calls the “slanted science” of thimerosal research:

While Offit focuses on those groups (like Defeat Autism Now! and Generation Rescue) that have been very confrontational and that support slanted science, there are many … groups (like Autism Speaks) that have been broader in their search for autism’s causes and cure.

Overly simplistic is not a fair or polite way to describe Dr. Parikh or the review at Salon. The quote David chooses to single out is precise and accurate. DAN! and GR _are_ confrontational. Several of their members have expressed themselves in terms that are aggressive and violent. They _do_ support slanted science. Generation Rescue once published an ad in (I think) the NYT that thanked researchers for their work on mercury. Several of the named researchers immediately sent an (unpublished) letter to the editor to protest that their work was misrepresented. How much more slanted can you get?

And David, if you’re going to take Dr Parikh to task for ignoring invitations to debate you in an open forum, should I take you to task for refusing to participate in a debate with me in an open forum? Because you did.

David then goes on to suggest that Autism Speaks are just as slanted as GR or DAN! by citing the fact that they have sanctioned three studies that concentrate on vaccines.

Dr. Parikh – Please get your rhetorical ducks in a row, or refrain from participating in this discussion altogether. Misinformation is a dangerous thing. If Autism Speaks is not “slanted,” then how do you explain their support for thimerosal-autism research?

If we look back at what Dr Parikh actually _said_ we can see the picture is clear. Dr Parikh said:

….there are many … groups (like Autism Speaks) that have been broader in their search for autism’s causes and cure.

Autism Speaks have funded three out of twelve studies that concentrate on vaccines. I would not describe a 25% hit rate as supporting thiomersal-autism research. I would describe it exactly as Dr Parikh – ‘broader in their search’. In other words, 75% of their research is _not_ about vaccines. That’s pretty broad.

Its a puzzle. I can only think David didn’t understand Dr Parikh’s rhetoric. I’ll close with an echo of David’s challenge to Dr Parikh. If you ever do change your mind about the debate – a debate in the most open arena of all – a weblog – just let me know. There’ll be no money in it at all but you’ll be able to say you did what Dr Parikh didn’t and accepted the challenge.

Dr Parikh responds.

13 Responses to “David, I am not embarrased but puzzled”

  1. Orac September 23, 2008 at 15:57 #

    Perhaps this should be e-mailed to Mr. Kirby. 🙂

  2. RJ September 23, 2008 at 16:13 #

    “If you ever do change your mind about the debate – a debate in the most open arena of all – a weblog – just let me know. There’ll be no money in it at all but you’ll be able to say you did what Dr Parikh didn’t and accepted the challenge.”

    Oooooo! Love it! Love it! Love it!

    But I hate to say it…he won’t take you up on the debate. His style requires lengthy articulation of his arguments and a forum suited to his liking (AoA, Huffington Post, and meetings (for pay) arranged by his associates). He can’t possibly survive a debate of this nature, so he’ll continue to do what he’s been doing: write a bunch of crap from his safe, isolated corner of the basement, free of resistance and scrutiny…and, oh yeah, facts too.

  3. Joseph September 23, 2008 at 16:41 #

    But I hate to say it…he won’t take you up on the debate. His style requires lengthy articulation of his arguments and a forum suited to his liking (AoA, Huffington Post, and meetings (for pay) arranged by his associates).

    I’m sure he prefers traditional spoken debates, with time limits, and where you just can’t do a lot of claim checking. Failing that, a controlled/censored forum like AoA would be his second choice.

    That said, I don’t think Autism Speaks is the greatest example of an anti-DAN organization. While they strive to be perceived as mainstream, clearly there’s some political influence there from alt-med and anti-vax peddlers. The MIND Institute might be a bit better, but we all know who one of the founders was.

  4. kristina September 23, 2008 at 20:01 #

    I can’t promise for sure, Kev, but I could get you a venue to stage the debate at……..

  5. Ringside Seat September 23, 2008 at 21:16 #

    Kirby only wants to debate people who will give him credibility merely by having an exchange with him.

  6. Genny September 23, 2008 at 21:46 #

    I would encourage anyone Kirby invites to debate him to decline. The best strategy is to ignore Kirby. Debate real journalists and scientists. If Offit, for example, were to debate someone, it would have to be someone like Mark Noble, a scientist, but definitely not Kirby. Who does Kirby think he is?! Though, in fairness, I’d also encourage journalists not to debate Kirby since Kirby just makes things up as he goes along (witness his performance against Arthur Alle).Besides, Kirby is an incredibly boring and long-winded speaker. Ever see his power points?

  7. Sullivan September 23, 2008 at 22:51 #

    Kev,

    I’ve got to take you to task on a statement.

    Autism Speaks have funded three out of twelve studies that concentrate on vaccines. I would not describe a 25% hit rate as supporting thiomersal-autism research. I would describe it exactly as Dr Parikh – ‘broader in their search’. In other words, 75% of their research is not about vaccines. That’s pretty broad.

    There are 12 environmental projects, of which 25% involve vaccines.

    They have other projects, such as the autism genome project, and a joint epidemiology project with the CDC, a brain structure project with Eric Courchesne, as well as grants on diagnosis and treatement…

    It is amazing that they would pull the Autism Speaks card.

    But, it must be frustrating for Mr. Kirby. He was taken to task pretty thoroughly in Autism’s False Prophets. It is difficult for Mr. Kirby to directly respond. Perhaps this is why he responded, instead, to Dr. Parikh?

    I find it amazing that Mr. Kirby can use the term “overly simplistic” in reference to Dr. Parikh after years of Mr. Kirby’s overly simplistic “epidemiology” using the CDDS data.

    This comment

    Dr. Parikh – Please get your rhetorical ducks in a row, or refrain from participating in this discussion altogether. Misinformation is a dangerous thing

    Just pegs the irony meter, bending the needle in ways never before seen. We suffer so much from the misinformation of David Kirby. Mr Kirby should be thanking Dr. Offit for taking it easy on him.

  8. Regan September 23, 2008 at 22:52 #

    Quoted from David Kirby,
    Dr. Parikh – Please get your rhetorical ducks in a row, or refrain from participating in this discussion altogether. Misinformation is a dangerous thing.

    Aka, the my way or the highway strategy.
    Does anyone else see the irony of the sanctimonious statement on misinformation?

  9. isles September 23, 2008 at 23:41 #

    Dr. Parikh’s response to Kirby:

    http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=21538

    My favorite passage:

    “So instead of attacking the messenger, citing irrelevant science, moving the target, demanding that alternative views to theirs be squelched, or relying on slick slogans and celebrity endorsements, I would ask Mr. Kirby to clarify why he still believes vaccines cause autism, especially after we see his rationale explained in Dr. Offit’s book.”

  10. Sullivan September 24, 2008 at 00:07 #

    Does anyone else see the irony of the sanctimonious statement on misinformation

    I did, but I think it’s stuck in the spam queue due to too many links!

  11. Ms. Clark September 24, 2008 at 07:22 #

    Sullivan, I think your comment got released from the spam filter now.

  12. jypsy September 24, 2008 at 12:37 #

    “Does anyone else see the irony of the sanctimonious statement on misinformation”

    He’s not the only one who can do it

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Vaccine Doctor and the Autism Mom Heroine - September 24, 2008

    […] appeal to emotions, entitling a post Dr. Rahul K. Parikh, I Am Becoming Embarrassed For You. Kev at Left Brain/Right Brain responds with David, I am not embarrassed but puzzled. Dr. Parikh responds by listing the […]

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