Vaccine skeptic propogates harmful autism stereotypes…again

29 Feb

A major news story in the U.S. right now involves a school shooting incident in Ohio. Somehow when school shootings happen, someone always seems to float the speculation that the shooter is/was autistic. It’s happening again with people pointing to this article on
the Cafe Mom website:

40 Infallible Reasons Why You Should Not Vaccinate Infants

By Jagannath Chatterjee (Fighting Vaccines Since 1985)
August 30, 2008

“Fighting vaccines since 1985″….

The 40 “infallible reasons” include this one:

23. Autism is a permanent disability that affects the child physically, mentally and emotionally. It makes the child loose social contact. It impedes both the physical and mental growth of the child. It destroys the brain causing severe memory and attention problems. According to vaccine researcher Dr Harris Coulter, vaccines cause children to become pervert and criminal. All the school shootings by the children in the USA are by autistic children. Vaccines can cause more harm that even the medical community privately acknowledges.

Readers will likely not be surprised to read that Dr. Coulter is not a medical doctor.

Such statements as those above generally don’t need comment to anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of the facts. If I had made that statement up people would accuse me of going over-the-top in parody.

This isn’t a time for “generally”. We have a recent school shooting case in the U.S.. And we have people pointing to this article as part of that discussion. The logical train of vaccines cause autism which causes people to be “pervert and criminal” which leads to school shootings.

It’s worth noting that both Harris Coulter and Jagannath Chatterjee are featured favorably on the site For those who consider that to be an ad-hominem attack I’d ask: against who? or Coulter and Chatterjee? Neither looks good in association with the other.

14 Responses to “Vaccine skeptic propogates harmful autism stereotypes…again”

  1. Chris March 1, 2012 at 07:17 #

    Harris Coulter’s PhD was in Russian studies and political science. He had no qualifications in any medical field.

    Personally I am fed up with those who assume kids with disabilities are violent. More than once I had to explain that the special ed. program my son was in was for his speech disability, and it had nothing to do with behavior.

    At a playground one mother from the school my son attended announced proudly that they were working to remove the special ed. program. I asked her why, and she said it was because “those” kids were dangerous. Again I explained that it was a developmental communication disorder, not a behavioral disorder. She asked my why I cared, and I told that my son was in the program. She then blanched when I told her my son was the little boy playing nicely with hers.

  2. sharon March 1, 2012 at 09:33 #

    I’ve always been a fan of “..loose social contact” myself.

  3. Julian Frost March 2, 2012 at 06:38 #

    I was so hacked off, I wrote a post about the 40 “infallible” reasons. Be warned, there is swearing. One of the reasons referred to Andrew Wakefield’s research.
    ’nuff said.

  4. Saraquill March 3, 2012 at 01:46 #

    Why are Coulter and Chatterjee so intent on insulting great quantities of people?

  5. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. March 3, 2012 at 02:44 #

    “Why are Coulter and Chatterjee so intent on insulting great quantities of people?”

    Because they are twats, basically. Ignorant ones.

  6. Dianne March 3, 2012 at 11:03 #

    This is another example of an adult with Asperger confessing to a horrible murder.

    In Dutch so you will need to hot the translate button.

  7. daedalus2u March 3, 2012 at 19:22 #

    “Why are Coulter and Chatterjee so intent on insulting great quantities of people?”

    Because they are bullies.

    If you look at the literature, there is a single commonality in all the students who have shot up their school.

    They were all bullied.

    That is also true for essentially all students who have killed themselves. They were all bullied too.

    Want to stop school violence? Stop children from being bullied at school, at home, on the street, everywhere.

    Of course bullies won’t like this approach because then they can’t “win” by bullying.

  8. David N. Brown March 4, 2012 at 07:23 #

    I have a printout of a paper by Michael S. Kimmel and Matthew Mahler, “Adolescent Masculinity, Homophobia and Violence”, that I’d recommend as a starting point of research on the subject. A significant observation in the paper is that “random school shootings” tended to occur in NON-random locations, which the authors reasonably used to argue against ANY truly national trend being to blame.

    What I find head-spinning about this is that, to my knowledge, the only school-shooting perpetrator SUGGESTED to have been autistic was the VA Tech shooter. Unfortunately, that seems to have generated a fair amount of stigmatization in itself. What I think is nonsensical about it is, if that individual is an undiagnosed “aspie” (which I think IS possible), the only useful lesson to be learned is that, if an aspie DOES set out to commit a shooting spree, he can do the job “better” than most. So why not extrapolate that into good prospects in a lawful pursuit?

  9. usethebrainsgodgiveyou March 6, 2012 at 16:05 #

    It’s not just anti-vaxers. When a supposed “authority” (cough, SBC cough, cough) says they have zero degrees of empathy, and now a compatriot is doing a study at the Cambridge Autism Centre ( ) that takes into account moral judgements of autistics…oy…

    Each of us are responsible for our own actions. I doubt there are any more murderers among autistics than there are among “neurotypicals”. Approximately 16,000 people are murdered every year in America, according to the CDC. What percentage were autistic, and what percentage were by autistic persons?

  10. David N. Brown March 7, 2012 at 01:34 #

    Then again, if you will pardon me playing “devil’s advocate”, what percentage of murdered autistic people were murdered by another autistic person? In all seriousness, it’s widely reported without dispute that people with mental illness/ disorders in general are more likely to be victims of crimes than to commit them, but I’ve wondered if, behind that figure, there is a grimmer reality of the disabled preying on each other.

    It also needs to be kept in mind that the likelihood of committing a crime isn’t the only issue in appraising possible threats. Some individuals (most obviously military personnel) may be no more likely to commit a crime, but are capable of doing a disproportionate amount of damage if they do. The VA Tech shooter was definitely such an individual, I think in large part because whatever was wrong with his mind did not interfere with his ability to care out a plan.

  11. Liz Ditz March 7, 2012 at 18:23 #

    Getting back to school shootings, Polly Palumbo PhD has an informative and factual blog post on, well, School Shootings at her blog, MommaData (which I recommend you follow).

  12. Captain Quirk March 23, 2012 at 02:52 #

    “I’ve always been a fan of “..loose social contact” myself.”

    I agree. Loose social contact is several orders of magnitude better than having loose standards for evidence.

  13. Paul S April 7, 2012 at 19:19 #

    @ David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E., “Because they are twats, basically. Ignorant ones.” You are very much an ignoramus and highly unpleasant.

  14. McD April 8, 2012 at 00:48 #

    @Paul S. These people are whipping up hysteria, demonizing those of us on the spectrum and our children. It is hard enough job-hunting without having a prospective employer stereotyping you as prone to going postal. Kids have a hard enough time in school without being stereotyped as potential school shooters.

    Coulter implied we and our kids “pervert and criminal” (and by extension good and rational parenting is “pervert and criminal”). Chatterjee lied and said “All the school shootings by the children in the USA are by autistic children.” She did this to whip up the above mentioned hysteria about us and our kids.

    A number of people on the thread have provided evidence as to why these people are flat wrong. I think David summed them up quite nicely – they ARE ignorant and their ridiculous nonsense should be ignored. If you have some evidence to the contrary, please present it.

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