Another example of irresponsible blogging by David Kirby

14 Nov

Autism Speaks recently put out what I consider to be a rather irresponsible press release. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) added a new objective, and Autism Speaks chose to frame it as “IACC includes vaccine research objective in strategic plan for autism research“. I’ve discussed that already, so I won’t go into more details here.

Instead, I want to take a look at how David Kirby treated this story. He blogged this as Top Federal Panel Endorses Autism Research That Includes Vaccines – Dueling Press Releases Ensue. Mr. Kirby takes on the role of (misinformed) cheerleader for the vaccine-epidemic groups that sponsor the Age of Autism blog, where the piece was posted. As you will see, he probably should have checked with his community before posting.

On Tuesday, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), Washington’s leading arbiter for directing federal funds to autism research, unanimously voted to recommend studies that include investigations into possible links between autism and environmental triggers – including vaccines – in certain subsets of children.

Mr. Kirby is invited to check the actual process of federal funding of autism research and the role of the IACC. He could watch the latest video of an IACC meeting, where Dr. Insel (director of NIMH and chair of the IACC) makes it clear that the IACC is an advisory and planning committee only. They are far from the “final arbiter for directing federal funds”. That is a minor point compared to the fact that the IACC did not recommend studies into the possible links between autism and vaccines.

This fact that the IACC was not committing to vaccine-autism research was not missed by some of his readers, who are quoted in the conclusion of his recent blog post. A conclusion which is rather confused in tone:

So, just to recap: The Federal Government’s top autism panel has voted unanimously to support studies into autism and its possible environmental triggers – including vaccination. In turn, Autism Speaks has cheered “including vaccine research objectives in the IACC plan” while its supposed rival, ASF, has equally cheered that “vaccine research (is) out of the IACC autism plan.”

Some parents I spoke with grudglingly accepted ASF’s view of events, however. “IACC took out ALL proposed vaccine research studies; They specifically elimated A) a vax unvax study, B) an unvaxed or partially vaxed sibs study and C) an adjuvant study – all gone,” one mother wrote. “They only left the word “vaccine” in a along laundry list of POTENTIAL future possible (translation never) study topics.”

Whether the IACC has recommended specific vaccine-autism research, or environment-autism research, vaccines remain on the list of possible contributors to autistic regression as far as the US Government is concerned.

And that is just how Congressional leaders intended it to be.

If parents are telling Mr. Kirby that the IACC is not really committing to fund vaccine research, how can this “just how Congressional leaders intended it to be”, since Mr. Kirby is asserting that the congressional intent is to include vaccine-autism research? It reads a bit confusing to me.

Well, it’s confusing because David Kirby has once again edited his post after the fact. Take a look at this screenshot of the original post:


Yep, it’s different. Sometime after he posted his piece, he added the entire paragraph :

Some parents I spoke with grudglingly accepted ASF’s view of events, however. “IACC took out ALL proposed vaccine research studies; They specifically elimated A) a vax unvax study, B) an unvaxed or partially vaxed sibs study and C) an adjuvant study – all gone,” one mother wrote. “They only left the word “vaccine” in a along laundry list of POTENTIAL future possible (translation never) study topics.”

Yes, David Kirby wrote a post praising the IACC’s actions as funding vaccine research and then backpedaled when autism parents emailed him with the reality of the situation: the IACC did not commit to funding vaccine research.

He also edited out a comment where he refers to a statment by Alison Singer of the Autism Science Foundation as “And there was this, almost Orwellian statement: ”

I guess it was Orwellian until his own readers agreed with it?

Can you find where Mr. Kirby notes his change in that piece? Neither can I. A major change like this should be noted in the piece.

I’ll take a side-trip here into discussing Mr. Kirby’s mistakes and the way he handles them. Unfortunately, Mr. Kirby has a history of changing blog posts after the fact, even to the point of leaving clearly erroneous posts online without a comment.

A few examples:

He wrote a post, “CDC: Vaccine Study Design “Uninformative and Potentially Misleading“”. After Blogger (and epidemiologist) epiwonk showed the mistakes in that post, Mr Kirby rewrote the post, complete with a note about the error. In an odd move, he left first the erroneous post online. As epiwonk showed, even the second post was seriously flawed, but Mr. Kirby chose to leave it online.

Mr. Kirby made a serious misquote in his presentation to congressional staffers. No mention of the error was made in the power point slides he posted online.

He made a factor of 10 error in reading a graph for a blog post. He copied the blog post from the Age of Autism blog to the Huffington Post, and corrected the error in his Huffington Post piece without correcting the Age of Autism piece.

He made the rather simple error of mistaking the Obama transition teams website for the website. Again, he posted to both the Age of Autism blog and to the Huffington Post. Mr. Kirby added a comment to the Huffington Post piece, but just deleted the erroneous post on the Age of Autism blog.

I make mistakes. Sometimes pretty spectacular mistakes. But I think it shows a certain level of disrespect from Mr. Kirby in how he handles his mistakes.

But, I’ve digressed from the main topic here: how Mr. Kirby handled the press releases from Autism Speaks and the Autism Science Foundation about the IACC’s new objective. Even without the confusing conclusion and the changes made after the fact, Mr. Kirby’s post is irresponsible.

It is one thing to take on the role of cheerleader/journalist as Mr. Kirby has done. But he gets to walk away from this community. He’s tried to walk away once, and he is now about to embark on a new career path taking on factory farming. In a few years when parents are complaining that the government hasn’t funded vaccine-autism research like David Kirby told us the government would…in a few years when the bitterness comes to the surface…where will David Kirby be? Will he be here to take responsibility for the mess he has created?

I admit, this is minor compared to the mess he made with convincing parents that autism was caused by thimerosal. How many children have been “treated” with chelation who wouldn’t have if Mr. Kirby hadn’t taken on this cause? How many of them regressed or were otherwise harmed? We will never know.

And he will never accept his role in this and his responsibility.

3 Responses to “Another example of irresponsible blogging by David Kirby”

  1. kwombles November 14, 2009 at 18:16 #

    None of them will, Sullivan. They have too much invested to ever admit they were wrong. First, the AoA/GenRes folks have never been about taking responsibility for their actions or their mistakes. Second, too many of them are now financially invested to let this schtick go. Third, they undoubtedly like the sense of ego rush it gives them to consider themselves as David.

  2. Anton Chekhov November 21, 2009 at 08:46 #

    Ken Reibel I would love to see your 13 year old’s diagnosis of autism on paper. Why don’t you provide it, and also tell us who is paying you to run Autism News Beat.

  3. Anna Lekas Miller March 3, 2010 at 16:23 #

    My name is Anna Lekas Miller, I work for GRITtv, an alternative news station broadcast out of New York City. I just wanted to let anyone who would be interested know that today we will be hosting David Kirby on the show and he will be discussion factory farming! It will be today, 3/3 at 12 PM EST on, and probably posted as a clip on the same website around 8 PM EST tonight. Embed codes for both clips and livestream are available via contacting GRITtv or the website!

    Thank you! Enjoy!

    Anna Lekas Miller
    GRITtv Web Intern

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