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For the first time in history!

29 Oct

Here’s one of those statements that seem dramatic until one puts it into historical context:

For the first time in history, a biologically plausible mechanism of action has been discovered linking a vaccine to a serious adverse event.

Who wrote that? Someone from a group calling itself “SaneVax”. And repeated by none other than Dan Olmsted, proprietor of the Age of Autism blog. Yes, a man who has for years promoted the (failed) idea that mercury in vaccines caused an epidemic of autism is repeating the claim that ” For the first time in history, a biologically plausible mechanism of action has been discovered linking a vaccine to a serious adverse event.” The same Dan Olmsted who has offered up support for Andrew Wakefield and his failed claims that the MMR vaccine also caused a rise in autism rates.

Begs the question of why Mr. Olmsted has put so much time and effort into ideas like mercury and the MMR if they had no biologically plausible mechanism.

Of course no one believes Mr. Olmsted has changed his mind. It’s fairly clear this is just sloppy writing by “SaneVax” and some quick copy-and-paste work by Mr. Olmsted (sure he cited the source but did he read it?) . It would be amusing if the thimerosal and MMR ideas didn’t cause (and didn’t continue to cause) harm both within the autism communities and the general population.

For the record, this claimed “first biologically plausible mechanism” is from a paper by Prof. Shaw. His paper proposing a link between aluminum in vaccines and autism was very poor. Add this to the lack of relavence to autism andI see little point in putting much time into this new (gardasil) paper.

Also for the record and more historical context:

There were reactions to multi dose vaccines in the pre preservative era. The biologically plausible mechanism there was the growth of bacteria introduced into the vial by the needle.

There were reactions to the early polio vaccine produced by Cutter Laboratories. The biologically plausible mechanism there was the injection of live polio virus instead of the inactivated virus that was supposed to be used.

Similarly, the live virus in the oral polio vaccine  can occasionally cause paralysis. The OPV is no longer used in the U. S. after the efforts of a true vaccine safety advocate.

It probably seems strange but it is these last examples that strike me then most sad. Sure, they forgot their own claims that vaccines cause autism. But these other examples are very real, demonstrated vaccine reactions with clear biological mechanisms. But I am being naive. I am expecting a discussion of facts rather than a public relations and political commentary.

Edit to add: I’m not the first to notice this sloppy writing.

35 Nobel Laureates are all in the pocket of Big Pharma?

27 Jun

Yes. A group of 35 Nobel Laureates has been accused of working with the “vaccine industry”. Those familiar with the online discussions of autism and vaccines will likely be unsurprised that this claim comes from the Age of Autism blog. Given the odd nature of this claim, most will likely be unsruprised that this will take some lenghthy introduction.

The article at the Age of Autism is Write the President of Cameroon to Defend Dr. Luc Montagnier, which opens so many questions. Why do they want to defend Luc Montagnier? Why would one write the president of Cameroon to do so?

Luc Montagnier received the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2008. His research has since moved into some rather questionable territory. For example, he claims that DNA from bacteria can, in highly diluted samples, induce low frequency electromagnetic radiation. This brings us to his connection to the autism communities. He claims that he can detect the electromagnetic radiation from the blood of autistic children, but not from non-autistic children. He claims that this radiation is a sign of pathogentic bacteria, and, further, claims that based on this one might treat autism with long term antibiotic therapy.

Here is part of his summary from when he presented these ideas at AutismOne this year:

There is in the blood of most autistic children — but not in healthy children — DNA sequences that emit, in certain conditions, electromagnetic waves. The analysis by molecular biology techniques allows us to identify these electromagnetic waves as coming from already known bacterial species. This correlation, which is based on more than one hundred children of European origin, naturally does not prove a causal relationship. However, a therapy first started by a group of independent clinicians and now performed in conjunction with laboratory observations reinforces the idea that systemic bacterial infections play a role in the genesis of symptoms of autism.

These are, to put it politely, extraordinary claims. They are without the extraordinary evidence which would support them.

Those with experience following the autism/vaccine discussion will not be surprised that even with these odd claims, the alternative-medical community has embraced Luc Montagnier eagerly. He has a Nobel Prize, after all. And these groups have shown a strong desire to establish some credibility. Most of their proponents are non-medical specialists (think Kerri Rivera whose presentation at AutismOne promoted using a bleach as an oral and enema-based “therapy”) and their medical specialists include people whose reputations are less than stellar (for example, Andrew Wakefield and Mark Geier).

Luc Montagnier ties his theory into the permeable-gut theory of autism.

Our working hypothesis is that immune dysfunction associated with inflammation of the intestinal mucosa leads to the introduction of bacterial components, including neurotoxins,
into the bloodstream, creating oxidative stress as well as microvascularities, especially affecting meningeal vessels and finally specific neuronal damage.

And questions whether risks are worth the benefit for vaccines in the modern world

My position on vaccines has not changed over the last 30 years: the principle has proved to be excellent in the past. Smallpox has been eradicated in the world thanks to the use of vaccination, with attenuated vaccinia virus. But some had to pay a horrific price: encephalitis in a certain number of children. Over the years, vaccinations against bacteria and viruses have multiplied, appearing as the most cost-effective way to prevent epidemics. However, side effects are becoming more important and a single death cannot be tolerated any longer. Many parents have observed a temporal association – which does not mean causation – between a vaccination by puncture and the appearance of autism symptoms. This should not be neglected by the medical community and public health decision makers. It is therefore of prime importance to study the risk factors, both environmental and genetic, which could be involved in order to prevent them. Presumably, vaccination, especially vaccination against multiple antigens, could be a trigger of a pre-existing pathological situation in some children. The vaccine denialists are not the courageous individuals who raise the problems of vaccination accidents, but are those people who deny the existence of these tragic accidents. The latter believe in the dogma “vaccines are good”, period. They are forgetting the Hippocratic oath: primum, non nocere. First, do no harm.

He has credentials. He claims to have a potential cause and potential treatment for autism. He supports the gut-brain theory and is openly skeptical about the way vaccines are used. Is there any surprise that the vaccines-cause-autism/alternative-medicine groups support him?

A news article on the Nature website discusses some recent controversy involving Luc Montagnier. In Nobel fight over African HIV centre Declan Butler writes

A fledgling AIDS research centre in Cameroon, already struggling to find a scientific leader, is now facing insurrection from an unlikely quarter: a group of 35 Nobel prizewinners.

The laureates are calling for the centre’s interim scientific director, fellow prizewinner Luc Montagnier, to be removed from the part-time post. Observers say that unless the leadership crisis is resolved quickly and decisively, it could harm the prospects of the Chantal Biya Inter­national Reference Centre (CIRCB) in Yaoundé.

Yes, 35 Nobel Laureates have signed a letter asking an AIDS center in Cameroon to reconsider hiring Luc Montagier in a part time post.

The laureates argue that his embrace of theories that are far from the scientific mainstream, as well as what they claim are anti-vaccination views, risk hurting the CIRCB’s research, health-care programme and reputation. Montagnier has suggested, for example, that water can retain a ‘memory’ of pathogens that are no longer present1; that the DNA sequences of pathogens emit electromagnetic waves that could be used to diagnose disease2, 3; and that stimulating the immune system with antioxidants and nutritional supplements may help people to fight off AIDS4.

1) Montagnier, L., Aïssa, J., Ferris, S., Montagnier, J.-L. & Lavalléee, C. Interdisciplin. Sci. 1, 81–90 (2009).

2) Montagnier, L. et al. Preprint at (2010).

3) Montagnier, L. et al. Interdisciplin. Sci. 1, 245–253 (2009).

4) Butler, D. Nature 468, 743 (2010).

One could argue that it is this last point which is the most important, and the likely strongest motivation for the group of Laureates to write their letter. From reference 4:

Since then, Montagnier has supported non-mainstream theories in AIDS research that have put him at odds with other scientists. Most recently, he has argued that strengthening the immune system with antioxidants and nutritional supplements needs to be considered along with antiretroviral drugs in fighting AIDS, in particular in Africa.

“Montagnier’s embrace of pseudoscientific and fringe agendas over the past few years has been seized on by AIDS denialists and other fringe groups, who make the case that Montagnier now supports their crazy views,” says John Moore, an AIDS virologist at Cornell University in New York. Montagnier says that AIDS denialist groups misrepresent his thinking.

My suspicion is that the group of 35 Nobel Laureates are very concerned that an AIDS treatment center in Africa might take a path towards non-scientifically based treatments.

The Nature news article does mention Luc Montagnier’s connection to the autism communities:

The last straw for Montagnier’s critics seems to have been his appearance in May alongside vaccine sceptics at a conference in Chicago, Illinois, organized by US patient-advocacy groups AutismOne and Generation Rescue. Montagnier’s talk, on his hypothesis that bacterial infections may be one of many causes of autism spectrum disorder, states: “There is in the blood of most autistic children — but not in healthy children — DNA sequences that emit, in certain conditions, electromagnetic waves.”

The same groups who greeted a single Nobel Laureate with such vigor have now 35 other Nobel Laureates who consider this move by Luc Montagnier to be “the last straw” in his actions. That is a rather stunning rebuke.

And, as already alluded to above, a rebuke which has not gone unanswered. The Age of Autism blog is calling for support for Luc Montagnier. Their article, Write the President of Cameroon to Defend Dr. Luc Montagnier, begins:

A recent article in Nature shows that the vaccine industry has been closing ranks against Dr. Luc Montagnier ever since his brilliant lecture at AutismOne last month. In particular, 35 Nobel Laureates, led by one who sells commercial products to the vaccine industry, sent a letter to the President of Cameroon protesting Dr. Montagnier’s leadership position on a national research organization dedicated to HIV research.

Immediately we read that it is the “vaccine industry” closing ranks against Luc Montagnier, and the Nobel Laureates are led by one with a link (however tenuous) to the vaccine industry.

What is more stunning in this article is the fact that they never address the simple question of whether it would be good for the AIDS community in Cameroon to have Luc Montagnier on board at the Center. The letter is entirely focused on arguments that vaccines cause autism.

In conclusion, the evidence to date shows that Dr. Luc Montagnier’s serious consideration to the vaccine-autism connection is as correct as his original discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Please do not cave to the coercive and corrupt powers of the vaccine industry, which includes an old rival who previously tried to take credit for Dr. Montagnier’s Nobel Prize-Winning discovery of HIV. We believe that through his work on autism, Dr. Montagnier has further demonstrated a level of scientific rigor and innovation of unparalleled accomplishment that could hold significant promise for patients suffering from AIDS, as it does for patients with autism.

What the autism/vaccine discussion has to do with Cameroon’s decision whether to keep Luc Montagnier on board for an AIDS center is not a part of the letter. This letter has frankly nothing to do with Cameroon’s decision whether to keep Luc Montagnier on board at an AIDS center. It is just a rundown of the rather weak arguments behind the vaccine-autism proposed link, with a liberal dose of “coercive and corrupt” powers language. This may come as a bit of a harsh surprise to the author of the letter, but, this letter will only serve to help convince the President of Cameroon to let Luc Montagnier go.

It is likely that the president of Cameroon will not do much fact checking, but should he chose to, here’s one section that takes no interpretation:

The latest CDC Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network report from one US state found a 20% decrease in autism spectrum disorder prevalence in children born in 2000, the first year after a joint statement was made in the United States by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public Health Service calling for thimerosal to be removed as soon as possible. This is the first statistically significant decrease in autism reported in this surveillance system’s decade long-history.

The prevalence estimate went from 1 in 110 to 1 in 88. That’s an increase.

Here is Luc Montagnier’s own response to the letter submitted by the 35 Nobel Laureates: Luc Pr Luc Montagnier HIV – AUTISM – VACCINES: FACTS and HOPES

What letter, Mr. Olmsted? Why this one, of course.

14 Mar

When Brian Deer wrote one of his 2009 article for the Sunday Times: Focus: Hidden records show MMR truth, he introduced the article with a discussion of the father of Child 11, the only American child in the Lancet 12:

ON a Monday morning in February 1997, a taxi left the Royal Free hospital, in Hampstead , northwest London. It turned out of the car park and headed to the renowned Institute of Cancer Research, six miles southwest in Fulham.

In the back of the cab sat a California businessman, whose commercial interests lay in electroplating, but whose personal crusade was autism. On his lap was a plastic pot, in which snips of human tissue floated in protective formalin.

The snips were biopsies taken from the gut of the man’s five-year-old son, then a patient on the hospital’s Malcolm ward. The boy, Child Eleven, as he is known to protect his privacy, had been enrolled in a programme to investigate alleged risks of the three-in-one measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Mr. 11, as he is known, was the one parent who chose to confirm the results he was given by Mr. Wakefield’s team at the Royal Free. In particular, he wanted to confirm whether the tissue samples taken from his son really contained measles virus, as he was told. After taking samples to people outside Mr. Wakefield’s team at the Royal Free:

“It took a big fight to get the information,” said Mr Eleven. “They told me there was no measles virus. I had the tests repeated three times at different labs in the US, and they all came back negative.”

This comes as no surprise to readers today. Mr. Wakefield’s graduate student, Nicholas Chadwick, was telling him all along that the virology results were negative.

In a later report, How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed, Mr. Deer also introduced the article with Mr. 11. He noted that Child 11 was listed in the Lancet article as having a first behavioral symptom of “Recurrent “viral pneumonia” for 8 weeks following MMR” as occurring 1 week after the administration of the MMR vaccine, a point critical to Mr. Wakefield’s claims. However, according to documents available to Mr. Wakefield, the child showed signs before the MMR. Per Mr. Deer:

But child 11’s case must have proved a disappointment. Records show his behavioural symptoms started too soon. “His developmental milestones were normal until 13 months of age,” notes the discharge summary. “In the period 13-18 months he developed slow speech patterns and repetitive hand movements. Over this period his parents remarked on his slow gradual deterioration.”

Enter Dan Olmsted, proprietor of the Age of Autism blog. Mr. Olmsted sought out Child 11’s father to corroborate Mr. Deer’s story. Such is the importance of contradicting Mr. Deer that he was willing to contradict Mr. Wakefield’s claim in the Lancet as well. Mr. Olmsted claims that Mr. 11 wrote him that rather than 13 months, “The onset of his autistic-like behaviors began around 18 months.”

The one thing that Dan Olmsted, Brian Deer and Mr. 11 apparently agree upon: the report in The Lancet is incorrect. Somehow I expect there is some convoluted explanation Mr. Olmsted would offer to avoid this problem, but lets move on. Unfortunately to a rather odd back-and-forth where neither party (Deer and Olmsted) communicating directly. To start, Mr. Olmsted would have us believe that Mr. 11 is annoyed? angry? with Mr. Deer’s reporting and thinks they “misrepresented the facts”.

Mr. Olmsted wrote:
[edit to add: Mr. Olmsted is quoting Andrew Wakefield’s defamation complaint here. I.e. these are Andrew Wakefield’s words]

Indeed, the child’s father has since written Deer and the BMJ to explain that Deer was misrepresenting facts about child 11, yet Deer and BMJ have printed no retraction, correction, or mention of this fact.

Mr. Deer noted this claim by Mr. Olmsted in his declaration:

Neither I nor (to my knowledge) the BMJ have received any letter from this father accusing me of “misrepresenting facts.” Nor have we received any request from this father asking for any retraction, correction, or for us to take any action at all. On the contrary, the father confirms the terms of the medical record (which he gave me at a meeting in California in September 2007), but disagrees with the accuracy of that record. The matter is thus purely a (very common) situation where parental recall and medical records do not coincide, and naturally parents believe their recollection to be right.

In a recent article, Mr. Olmsted wrote:

But the father told me: “Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration,” a clear contradiction that called for a prompt correction.

See what Mr. Olmsted did there? He cut short Mr. 11’s sentence and added his own ending. Which made me wonder, what was the full sentence and what was the full context.

If you are wondering that too, here is the full sentence from that email, in context:

Based on the incorrect discharge summary I shared with him, Mr. Deer reasonably inferred that my son’s autistic symptom, predated his receipt of the MMR vaccination, which they did not. Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration, but until the incorrect dates in the discharge summary were pointed out to me this week, I failed to realize that thee discharge summary was inaccurate. While the inaccuracies in the Royal Free discharge summary may be chalked up to sloppy record keeping, if my son really is Patient 11 , then the Lancet article is simply an outright fabrication.

Is that an accusation of “misrepresenting facts” by Mr. Deer, as Mr. Olmsted asserts? Rather than call for a retraction or correction, as Mr. Olmsted claimed, Mr. 11 noted that “The Lancet article is a clear misrepresentation of my son’s history”, and that “the Lancet article is simply an outright fabrication.”

How do I know what is in the full email? Brian Deer entered it (redacted, of course) into the public record as an exhibit to his declaration. Given the way Mr. Olmsted was clearly cherry picking the email, I wanted to obtain the source for myself.

With apologies in advance for any transcription errors. But mostly with apologies to the young man who was Child 11 and to his father:

Daniel Olmstead
Brian Deer
Dear Mr. Olrnstead & Mr. Deer:
I have spoken with both of you regarding my son who may be one of the subjects in the Royal Free Hospital’s “research study” on autism summarized in the 1998 Lancet article.

The main reason I am contacting you now is to reiterate to Mr. Olmstead that we wish for our family to stay out of the public eye, and request that in any further discussions of this matter our privacy and the confidentiality of our son’s medical history be respected. We appreciate that in published work you, Mr. Deer, did that. My son has not consented to any disclosures regarding his medical history, and I hope that whatever information you disseminate will be shared in a manner that is not personally identifiable.

My second purpose in contacting both of you is to clear up some confusion, albeit generating additional questions which, as I explain below, I do not think are worth pursuing. Mr. Olmstead informed me that he believes that my son is Patient 1 I in the Lancet article, a conclusion he seems to have reached due to a violation of doctor patient confidentiality by Dr F. Given Dr. F’s distance, so far as I know, from these events, and his current state, it is hard to know what to make of this purported information. Mr. Deer’s article appears to assume that my son is Patient 11 as well, describing conversations with a father of “Patient 11 ” that appears to be me. However, we have no confirmation that Patient 11 is my son. When we got information during the Royal Free’s investigation, we were told he was Patient 13. Only 12 patients are reported in the Lancet article. I have no way of knowing how many subjects were excluded from the final report, or whether my son was one of them.

In any event, the description of Patient 11 in the Lancet article is not accurate if, in fact, it refers to my son. The Lancet article indicates that autistic symptoms started at 15 months, a week after the MMR, which is completely inaccurate; my son’s autistic behaviors started 2-1/2 to 3 months after the MMR, which was administered to him at 15 months. The Lancet article is a clear misrepresentation of my son’s history. Moreover, the Lancet article is not consistent with the Royal Free’s discharge summary regarding my son, and both the article and the discharge summary are inaccurate. One of the incorrect statements in my son’s discharge report was that autistic symptoms were seen from 13-18 months, while the vaccination was at 15 months. This is clearly inaccurate as his symptoms began several months after the MMR, as reflected in my initial correspondence to the Royal Free requesting my son be included in the research study. Based on the incorrect discharge summary I shared with him, Mr. Deer reasonably inferred that my son’s autistic symptom, predated his receipt of the MMR vaccination, which they did not. Mr. Deer’s
article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration, but until the incorrect dates in the discharge summary were pointed out to me this week, I failed to realize that thee discharge summary was inaccurate. While the inaccuracies in the Royal Free discharge summary may be chalked up to sloppy record keeping, if my son really is Patient 11 , then the Lancet article is simply an outright fabrication. My son’s autistic behaviors did NOT begin a week after administration of the vaccine, in fact they began several months afterwards, with several medical complications occurring in between.

The bottom line is that, if my son is indeed Patient 11, then the Lancet article made a false assertion that his symptoms set in immediately after the MMR; in service of some attorneys’ efforts to prove “causation” that, unbeknownst to me, apparently drove this research. If the sloppy mishandling of patient information and inaccuracies in my own son’s records is any indication of how that research was done, then I am very thankful that the Lancet article has been withdrawn and the “research study” discredited. That brings me to my third reason for contacting you, which is to express my hope that we can all move on from this debacle and search for real causes of the current explosion in autism cases. I have been involved in and have supported serious research into the causes of and effective treatments for this illness. We know now that the study reported in the Lancet article was a huge and very costly distraction. I hope that you will join me in looking, with an open mind, at real explanations of the current situation, as well as in advocating for adequate medical care and educational services for the many people affected, so that outcomes can be positive, as they are now proving for my son. While some autism may be a natural part of the human condition, what is happening now requires explanation. We will not get it if we spend time rehashing old debates.

As for the confidentiality issues, I appreciate and rely on your courtesy and discretion

Mr. 11 asked for courtesy and discretion on confidentiality issues. I would put to Mr. Olmsted that when he published the first name of Child 11, he may not have been heeding Mr. 11’s wishes.

The father has made a few more statements about these events:

First, about the Age of Autism series: “Olmsted’s logic is twisted and emotional”.

About the research at the Royal Free: “We all make daily human errors, but I guess some people ( Royal Free ) do it for a lifetime !”


“What a HUGE embarrassment, and scientific fiasco ! “.

Mr. 11 asked “That brings me to my third reason for contacting you, which is to express my hope that we can all move on from this debacle and search for real causes of the current explosion in autism cases”

Whether one agrees with the “epidemic” or not, the idea of moving on from the “debacle” (which I read in context to refer to the story about Mr. Wakefield and the Lancet study) and focusing on research is a very wise suggestion. As Mr. Olmsted has shown, not only has Mr. Wakefield been a huge distraction, but his supporters have been as well.

Another manufactured controversy

26 Jul

People are mad at Brian Deer. Really mad. His work uncovered a number of facts behind Andrew Wakefield’s research and business interests. These facts, these actions by Mr. Wakefield, led to many of the problems Mr. Wakefield has suffered in recent years. It is understandable that people are mad at Brian Deer. Andrew Wakefield is rather important to the groups who believe that vaccines caused an epidemic of autism. Mr. Wakefield is the researcher who took the parent’s hypothesis and put it into a prestigious medical journal. Mr. Wakefield has good credentials, and demeanor which makes for excellent TV footage. It is difficult to listen to him and think, “here is a man who lied to the world, caused a fear of the MMR vaccine and vaccines in general, and hid not only his faulty research, but other ethical lapses and shortcuts taken along the way”.

Difficult, but not impossible. The U.K.’s General Medical Council decided that contrary to what Mr. Wakefield had to say in his defense, he had misrepresented his work, he had taken many ethical shortcuts. While the GMC wasn’t interested in the vaccine fears promoted by the faulty, even fraudulent research, the GMC did find Mr. Wakefield guilty of ethics violations, research misconduct and dishonesty and had him struck off the U.K.’s medical register.

And, yes, it was the facts that led to the downfall of Mr. Wakefield. But, that doesn’t shield the messenger. In this case, Mr. Deer. Well, he was more than the messenger. He uncovered the facts as well as presented them.

One thing Mr. Wakefield’s supporters are mad about is the fact that Mr. Deer interviewed one parent using a pseudonym. He presented himself as “Brian Lawrence”, not “Brian Deer”. This is not news, having been in the press for at least 7 years. Much more to the point, it isn’t even a controversy, as I’ll show below. But, it is blog fodder. Apparently enough for Dan Olmsted of the Age of Autism to put out 3, count them 3, articles on the subject.

Since AoA have discussed Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Deer on their blog, it is not surprising that people came here looking to see if there would be a response to Mr. Olmsted’s pieces. There was a time when I read the Age of Autism blog, so perhaps, just perhaps, I was aware of the articles. In a comment on my piece, My comment to the IACC, I got the following

Jim Thompson, frequent commenter here, wrote:


It seems that your interests parallel those on AoA with a major exception. Have you read this?

See “I was visited yesterday, Friday 28th November 2003 by Brian Lawrence…” at…..dical.html

I used to get a lot of comments like that. Thread-jacking comments pointing me to one blog or another where some heated discussion was supposedly going on. I pulled the comment this time. In this case I felt it justified. The article it was attached to had nothing to do with the subject of the comment. In fact, to be blunt, I found it both ironic and insulting that the comment was attached to that piece.

Yes, my piece asking for research into better medical care for autistics is so like rehashing the “Brian Deer used a pseudonym” argument. If anything, this serves to show the differences between the Age of Autism and Left Brain/Right Brain. Differences which are becoming more pronounced with time. I’m pushing for a better future. They are rehashing their failures of the past.

Believe me, when I first heard that Brian Deer used a pseudonym in order to obtain an interview, I looked into the question. I asked a simple question: can a journalist lie to a source and if so, when?

The answer is, yes, a journalist can lie. As to when: there are two criteria that must be met. First, there must be a pressing need for the public to obtain the information. Second, the information is not expected to be obtainable by straightforward means.

Let’s consider the news investigation into Mr. Wakefield’s research. It is clear that there was a pressing need for the public to know whether the details were being accurately presented. Mr. Wakefield’s research was creating a fear of vaccines in general, and the MMR in specific. The vaccination rates were dropping to dangerously low levels, presenting a public health hazard. An investigation into the research, even if it required suberterfuge, was warranted, as long as the second criterion was met: there must be a valid expectation that the information would be obtainable by straightforward means.

OK, so point one is met. Let’s look at point two. Mr. Olmsted gives us insight into that question himself:

Deer had written a number of critical articles about parents’ claims of vaccine injury, and if he gave his real name, he doubtless feared, Child 2’s mother would not agree to talk to him. Once she checked his blog, she would be more likely to kick him out of the family home than sit still for what turned into a six-hour inquisition.

Mr. Deer is also described by Mr. Olmsted as being considered at the time of the interview as “a journalist notoriously hostile to people who claimed that vaccines had injured their children. ”

Clearly, the second point is met as well: the information was not expected to be obtainable by straightforward means

Mr. Olmsted is, no doubt, quite aware of the ethics of such methods. The Society of Professional Journalists have the following rules (emphasis added):

Journalists should:
— Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
— Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
— Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
— Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
— Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
— Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
— Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
— Never plagiarize.
— Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
— Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
— Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
— Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
— Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
— Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
— Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

As an aside: consider the rules above and Mr. Olmsted’s reporting on autism. “Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting”. “Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.” and more…

Back to the question of whether it is permissible to use “surreptitious methods of gathering information” in obtaining a story. Aside from these being the published rules of the Society of Professional Journalists, Mr. Olmsted is likely well aware of the method. Back when he was at UPE, Mr. Olmted’s journalism partner on what may have been his real intro into medical news reporting (a series on Lariam) was a gentleman named Mark Benjamin. Mr. Olmsted included Mr. Benjamin in the dedication of his book, “The Age of Autism”.

I believe that this is the same Mark Benjamin who went on to write a series for called “Getting straight with God“, a “four-part investigation into the Christian netherworld of “reparative therapy,” a disputed practice to convert gays and lesbians into heterosexuals. ”

How did Mark Benjamin, a straight man, obtain the information he needed for the story? ” I told Harley I was gay, although I am straight and married. I used a fake name. ”

He flat out admits, he lied:

When I arrived in Levy’s office, I was asked to fill out roughly 15 pages of questions about myself and my family. Mostly the questions centered on how I got along with my folks. In a section about my problems, I wrote “possible homosexuality.” The fact is, I’m straight, I’m married to a woman, and I have a 3-year-old daughter and a son due in October. I wrote on the form that that I was married with a kid. But I lied and said I was also living a secret life, that I harbored homosexual urges.

This is why I’m calling this out as a manufactured controversy. Brian Deer interviewed someone using a pseudonym. He misrepresented himself. It happens in journalism. It not only happens, it is clearly allowed under specific circumstances. As a journalist, a journalist whose colleagues have used the same techniques, Mr. Olmsted should be quite aware of this.


Please, let’s not invoke the God of vengence in autism discussions

12 Jul

There have been times when I have had the opportunity to stand up and make a clear statement, and yet I failed to do so and lived to regret it. One case that stands out right now is when the blogger erv called Kent Heckenlively of the Age of Autism blog “you sick fuck“. That incident stands out because now I am faced with another challenge: do I stand up to what I see as dangerous speech, this time by Mr. Heckenlively himself?

In an article, When I Can Do Nothing, Mr. Heckenlively writes:

And yet, as thankful as I am for an understanding of what has happened to my child and so many others, my heart is heavy. The Dark Forces which in the past have destroyed the careers of those who have found clues to the afflictions of our children and other disease communities are once again on the move. You may very well read about their actions this week. And I can’t do anything to stop them.

The pain Mr. Heckenlively is feeling is palpable in that paragraph. I feel for him. I really do. At the same time I was quite worried by the choice of the phrase “Dark Forces”. Had the article stopped there, I would not be writing this response.

Mr. Heckenlively goes on to write how he sought guidance from the Bible. Nothing inherently worrisome about that:

I often find myself pondering such questions of faith. What is it I’m meant to do? I want to rush the barricades, but to what effect? It was with such thoughts in my mind I went to our local bookstore, picked up a Bible, opened it to a random page, and with my eyes closed, put my finger down.

The passage he found at random?

Psalm 94 – God, the Avenger of the Righteous

Perhaps now you see why I chose to write a response. Invoking God to bring forth vengeance is troublesome to me.

Here is the version (the language differs according to the bible translation) of Psalm 94 Mr. Heckenlively quotes in his piece:

O’Lord, you God of vengeance, you God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O judge of the earth; give to the proud what they deserve! O’ Lord, how long shall the wicked exult?

They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O’Lord, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan, and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.

Understand, O dullest of the people; fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, he who teaches knowledge to humankind, does he not chastise? The Lord knows our thoughts, that they are but an empty breath.

Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, giving them respite from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot is slipping,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who contrive mischief by statute? They band together against the righteous, and condemn the innocent to death.

But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.

Mr. Heckenlively concludes his article:

God knows there are some wicked people out there trying to keep our children from getting better. If you’re listening God, and it meets with Your approval, this week would be an excellent time to deal with them.

I don’t know what Mr. Heckenlively means precisely by “deal with them”. But he has just quotes scripture ” He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.”

Here is a comment allowed through by the Age of Autism moderators:

Can he just get on with the smiting

Which tells me that the message is being received: God should smite those who are seen as “wicked”.

Mr. Heckenlively: I wish you and your family well. I truly mean that. I also would strongly encourage you to step back and rethink the post you have put up. Look at the language: “He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.” Ask yourself, ask a trusted friend outside of the autism communities: is this something you should have published?

Mr. Heckenlively, I know it wasn’t easy for you to write what you did. It is not easy to write this response. Finding a tone that remains respectful while voicing my very real concern for the message you are sending is difficult to say the least. I hope that both of us can take down our posts very soon.

Underimmunization in Ohio’s Amish: Parental Fears Are a Greater Obstacle Than Access to Care

29 Jun

With apologies for opening the subject of the Amish and autism once again, a recent paper in the journal Pediatrics explores vaccination and the Amish: Underimmunization in Ohio’s Amish: Parental Fears Are a Greater Obstacle Than Access to Care. Seth Mnookin has already discussed this at The Panic Virus at PLoS blogs in Anecdotal Amish-don’t-vaccinate claims disproved by fact-based study.

What is worrisome here is the fact that the nderimmunization amongst the Amish is resulting from parental fears. In a very different study from 2001, Haemophilus influenzae Type b Disease Among Amish Children in Pennsylvania: Reasons for Persistent Disease, most Amish parents who chose to not vaccinate were citing availability and convenience rather than fear as the reason.

To repeat–in 10 years the reasons for non-vaccinating amongst the Amish have changed from convenience to fear. We can’t say exactly why, but it seems quite plausible that the focus on autism, vaccines and the Amish could have played a role.

Given that the “Amish Anomaly” notion seems destined to linger on, I have written up another summary of the history and the facts of the story.

Dan Olmsted, now the owner of the Age of Autism, was once an editor for UPI. It was during his UPI time that he took on the autism/vaccine question that has since dominated his professional life. Back in 2005 he ran a series of stories which investigated the proposed link between autism and vaccines and, in specific, mercury. It was right around the time that the David Kirby/Lyn Redwood book “Evidence of Harm, Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy.” was published. This was likely the high water mark for the public’s acceptance of the vaccines-causation idea.

One of the ideas that Mr. Olmsted explored was that of the Amish. He started with the belief that they don’t vaccinate and set out to investigate whether this correlated with a lower autism prevalence. The idea of the Amish being a largely unvaccinated population was set out years earlier. David Kirby describes in Evidence of Harm how Lyn Redwood of SafeMinds discussed this in a presentation she made to congress in the year 2000.

Mr. Olmsted described his investigation starting in a piece, The Age of Autism: Mercury and the Amish . There was plenty of data even then which Mr. Olmsted could have considered which went against his hypothesis. Since then even more data has mounted against the idea.

And, yet, it persists. Often the “Amish don’t vaccinate and they don’t have autism” story pops up in internet discussions following news stories. Books have incorporated the idea. Of course it ends up in alternative medicine books on autism such as Kenneth Bock’s “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies”. The idea can be found in other boos as well, including “Timeless Secrets of Health and Rejuvenation” (2007) and “Cry for Health: Health: the Casualty of Modern Times” (2010). Again, this is a reason to revisit the debunking of this myth. The myth lives on, even in the face of facts.

In his 2005 UPI article, Mr. Olmsted started out with the assumption that the Amish don’t vaccinate. He set out to see if he could find autistics amongst the Amish, but didn’t look into the vaccination question with any depth:

So I turned to the 22,000 Amish in Lancaster County, Pa. I didn’t expect to find many, if any, vaccinated Amish: they have a religious exemption from the otherwise mandatory U.S. vaccination schedule.

As is well known now, the Amish do not have a religious exemption from the vaccine schedule. They do not have a religious prohibition against vaccination.

This was something Mr. Olmsted could easily have confirmed at the time. He might have checked the 1993 book Amish Society by John Andrew Hostetler (1993), in which he would have found the following statements about medicine:

“Some are more reluctant than others to accept immunization, but it is rare that an Amish person will cite a biblical text to object to a demonstrated medical need…” ….””If the Amish are slow to accept preventive measures, it doesn’t mean they religiously opposed to them…”

He might have made more than a cursory effort to contact people at the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. The Clinic, aside from serving special needs children (including autistics) runs vaccine clinics and has for some many years. In a piece explaining Mr. Olmsted’s failures, Mark Blaxill (also of the Age of Autism) explained that the Clinic did not return Mr. Olmsted’s phone call. No mention is given why Mr. Olmsted didn’t go to the clinic in his visits to Lancaster County

Had Mr. Olmsted done so, he would have known that this statement, again from his 2005 piece, was incorrect when he relied on a source who claimed a very low immunization rate:

That mother said a minority of younger Amish have begun getting their children vaccinated, though a local doctor who has treated thousands of Amish said the rate is still less than 1 percent.

He also made a misleading statement:

When German measles broke out among Amish in Pennsylvania in 1991, the CDC reported that just one of 51 pregnant women they studied had ever been vaccinated against it.

What is left vague in this statement was the fact that the 51 pregnant women were those who contracted German measles. Not surprising that those infected were largely unvaccinated. This doesn’t tell us what fraction of the whole population were vaccinated though, and is quite misleading.

One might wonder why Mr. Olmsted was not aware that the Amish participated in the eradication of Polio. Conversely, he might have questioned how polio was eradicated if the Amish did not vaccinate. Here is a March of Dimes photo from a 1959 vaccine clinic:

(from March of Dimes By David W. Rose, 2003)

An article available to Mr. Olmsted at the time of his 2005 article, Haemophilus influenzae Type b Disease Among Amish Children in Pennsylvania: Reasons for Persistent Disease, discussed the reasons why Amish parents did not vaccinate their children. While some did cite “religious or philosophical objections”, the majority said they would vaccinate if “vaccination were offered locally”:

Among Amish parents who did not vaccinate their children, only 25% (13 of 51) identified either religious or philosophical objections as a factor; 51% (26 of 51) reported that vaccinating was not a priority compared with other activities of daily life. Seventy-three percent (36 of 49) would vaccinate their children if vaccination were offered locally.

Since Mr. Olmsted’s original series, more data has come in refuting the “Amish Anomaly”. In 2006, a paper was published: Vaccination usage among an old-order Amish community in Illinois. Here is the abstract:

The Old-Order Amish have low rates of vaccination and are at increased risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. A written survey was mailed to all Amish households in the largest Amish community in Illinois inquiring about their vaccination status and that of their children. In this survey, the Amish do not universally reject vaccines, adequate vaccination coverage in Amish communities can be achieved, and Amish objections to vaccines might not be for religious reasons.

It is clear that the Amish do vaccinate and that it would have been simple for Mr. Olmsted to find accurate information about this at the time. It was certainly more difficult for Mr. Olmsted to ascertain what the prevalence of autism might be amongst the Amish. He made the assertion: ““there are only a few of them [autistic Amish] in the United States”.

Of the “few” Amish autistics Mr. Olmsted could find, six were being treated by Lawrence Leichtman. The children were unvaccinated but the doctor who reported them to Mr. Olmsted attributed their autism to high mercury levels. This is not surprising as Dr. Leichtman was one of the early alt-med practitioners working in autism, being part of the secretin fad of the 1990’s. One wonders if the “elevated mercury” levels in these children would stand up to tests performed by qualified medical toxicologists.

Another six autistic Amish, nearly under Mr. Olmsted’s nose at the time of his article, were being treated by the Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster, PA. Six children who had PDD or Autism were at that time being treated and written up for a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. They were missed by Mr. Olmsted. He has since argued that these children are syndromic and, thus, somehow not as relevant to his story. Those arguments aside, this was a clear miss for Mr. Olmsted.

In 2010, a study was presented at IMFAR: Prevalence Rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders Among the Old Order Amish

Preliminary data have identified the presence of ASD in the Amish community at a rate of approximately 1 in 271 children using standard ASD screening and diagnostic tools although some modifications may be in order. Further studies are underway to address the cultural norms and customs that may be playing a role in the reporting style of caregivers, as observed by the ADI. Accurate determination of the ASD phenotype in the Amish is a first step in the design of genetic studies of ASD in this population.

A preliminary number of 1 in 271 is a far cry from “little” or no autism amongst the Amish. Given the limitations of working within a community like the Amish, it is surprisingly close to the 1 in 100 often cited as the autism prevalence estimate for the general U.S. population. The study was being prepared for submission when I checked with the lead author last fall. It will be interesting to see what the final number is obtained for the prevalence.

The IMFAR abstract was available, I believe, before Dan Olmsted’s book, The Age of Autism, went to press. Instead of including this information, he chose to paint autism as rare amongst the Amish using quotes he obtained in 2005 and unsupported statements like, “the most aggressive possible count of autistic Amish comes to fewer than 20 cases, which would give us a rate of no more than 1 in 10,000.” It seems unlikely, given the low sales figures, that The Age of Autism will be reprinted. If that should happen, I wonder if Mr. Olmsted will correct this misinformation. The facts are clearly against him. Certainly, his review of internet sources and cursory tour of Lancaster County hardly counts as “aggressive”.

The “Amish don’t vaccinate and don’t have autism” idea was never very well supported. Now, with more data in, it is just plain wrong. It would be a good and honorable thing for Mr. Olmsted himself to make this clear. Good. Honorable. And not going to happen.

Sullivan outs himself

27 Apr

Back in 2010, Age of Autism’s Inspector Clouseau, summed up the following about Sullivan:

1) Female
2) American
3) A doctor or scientist
4) Not the parent of an autistic child.
5) Is actually Paul Offit’s wife Bonnie.

And followed up with this promise:

If you can produce a dad with a child with autism with a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature who blogs under the name Sullivan, a man who has an inordinate grasp of the details of your husband’s patents, lawsuits, published studies, and web habits, I will make sure that the website is given to you and your husband for good.

In fact, if you can produce this father, I promise to never, ever publicly write about or utter the name “Paul Offit” again.

As blogged by Sullivan, he will be attending IMFAR as a contributor:

I have written in the past that I will be attending IMFAR, the International Meeting For Autism Research. I will be supported by a stakeholder travel grant from the Autism Science Foundation, for which I am very grateful. What I haven’t mentioned before is that I was planning to attend IMFAR even before applying for the stakeholder grant. I’ve been planning on attending since I submitted an abstract: Parent Reported Status and Expectations for Their Autistic Student Children: An Analysis of the 2007 National Household Education Survey.

The abstract in question is:

Parent Reported Status and Expectations for Their Autistic Student Children: An Analysis of the 2007 National Household Education Survey. M. J. Carey

M.J. Carey, of course being LB/RB’s own Matt Carey.

So, now we turn back to JB Handley – are you ready to both hand over both the domain and your word to never mention in word or speech the name Paul Offit again JB?

People can’t change?

22 Apr

Today, JB Handley, founder of Generation Rescue became the latest person at Age of Autism to abuse a man with a psychiatric disorder.

Shouldn’t we celebrate that Mr. Mnookin claims to be sober? Sure we should. Beating a heroin addiction is a laudable outcome. That being said, I sure wouldn’t hire Mr. Mnookin in one of my companies, let him watch my kids, or go to him for parenting advice. He was a garden-variety junkie who stole money from friends and family, sorry.

Give with one hand, take with the other.

I don;t ever seem to recall such vitriol for another former heroin addict. In fact, for _this_ former heroin addict, JB Handley said:

I wept when I read RFK Jr’s piece yesterday on the Huffington Post…

As far as I can tell, the only difference between Mnookin and Kennedy is that Mnookin is man enough to discuss his addiction up front and personal.

JB Handley and his ilk idolise Kennedy because he’s on their side. If Seth Mnookin had written a very different book, you can bet that his former addiction wouldn’t count for a damn thing. I wonder if JB would hire Kennedy, let him watch his kids or go to him for parenting advice? Because according to JB’s standards, Kennedy is just another garden variety junkie.

I believe both Mnookin and Kennedy deserve credit for fighting a fight that JB Handley can neither envisage nor learn from. What neither of these two men deserve is to be judged on their past. I look forward to reading an AoA article on Seth that describes what is wrong with his writings rather than what he used to do as a young man.

Reconsidering the Nature of Autism

8 Apr

Todd Drezner has a new piece up on the Huffington Post: Reconsidering the Nature of Autism. He starts out by quoting the forward to one of Jenny McCarthy’s books. The forward is by alternative medical practitioner Jerry Kartzinel.

Here is what Mr. Drezner wrote in his introduction:

“Autism … steals the soul from a child; then, if allowed, relentlessly sucks life’s marrow out of the family members, one by one.” So wrote Dr. Jerry Kartzinel in the introduction to Jenny McCarthy’s bestselling “Louder Than Words.” No wonder, then, that the concept of neurodiversity– the idea that we should understand and accept autistic people as a group that thinks differently from the majority — has proven to be so controversial.

The quote takes me back. Back to when I was starting to look online for information about autism. I remember when Jenny McCarthy hit the scene. Kev responded here with his blogging. The blog might have been then, not LeftBrainRightBrain. I remember that Kev’s blog went down: the traffic was so high that he hit his bandwidth quota. I remember that he responded to the forward from Jerry Kartzinel. He responded with words and, a little later, with video:

I don’t bring this up just for some sort of nostalgia. But this reminds me of two major themes. First: words hurt. What Dr. Kartzinel wrote, and Jenny McCarthy published, hurt. It hurt a lot of people. It added to the stigma of autism and disability. Second: words can be powerful. Kev fought back, as did many others. How or if this was an influence on Todd Drezner, I can’t say. It influenced me as I still remember it.

We can’t sit back and let people stigmatize others, for whatever reason they may have. Kim Wombles shows that almost every day with her blog Countering. Bev did it with a humor and keen perspective on Asperger Square 8. Corina Becker is taking up the task with No Stereotypes Here. And this is just a few of the many voices, autistic and non, out there.

Having said this, I will bring up one message that I’ve felt needed to be countered for some time. Here is a screenshot of a page from the book “the Age of Autism” by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill. Both write for the Age of Autism Blog (Dan Olmsted appears to be the proprietor). Mark Blaxill is a member of the organization SafeMinds. Both promote the idea of autism as vaccine injury and, more specifically, the failed mercury hypothesis. (click to enlarge)

To pull but one disturbing quote: “As one of the first parents to observe an autistic child, Muncie learned how well autism targets ‘those functions distinctly human’ “. Yes, I have spent quite a lot of time fighting bad science like the first part in that sentence: the idea that autism is new/the kids in Kanner’s study were the first autistics ever. But what about the second part: that autistics are missing or have impaired “distinctly human” functions? Yes, I’ve also responded to that sentiment in the past and I plan to continue to do so. And that is much more important than the fight against bad science.

Words hurt. Jerry Kartzinel’s words hurt. Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill’s words hurt. They hurt and they are wrong. Plain and simple.

Another phrase from the above paragraph: “autism brutally restricts the interests of the affected”. So say the team that has one interest: pushing mercury in vaccines as a cause of autism. A little ironic?

Reading their writing, I am reminded of one of Bev’s amazing videos:

Back to the paragraph from “The Age of Autism”. Dan, Mark: You don’t think autistics made tools, explored the globe, invented new technologies? The sad thing is, it seems like you don’t.

Yeah, a lot of kids, kids like mine, aren’t in the world explorer/inventor categories. And even kids like mine are still as human as you or I. They are not missing anything “distinctly human”.

Jake Crosby abuses man with psychiatric disorder

21 Mar

Today at Age of Autism Jake Crosby – man who has a psychiatric disorder himself – took it upon himself to disparage a man who also has a psychiatric disorder and encourage the Age of Autism readers to do the same:

Seth Mnookin – a former drug dealer and burglar who bit a police officer…

Geez oh Peet! Offit picks the lousiest spokespeople, doesn’t he? First Amanda “don’t listen to me” Peet and now this former heroin addict.

Starting on Page 191, the DSM IV diagnoses Substance-Related Disorders:

The Substance-Related Disorders include disorders related to the taking of a drug of abuse (including alcohol), to the side effects of a medication, and to toxin exposure. In this manual, the term substance can refer to a drug of abuse, a medication, or a toxin. The substances discussed in this section are grouped into 11 classes: alcohol; amphetamine or similarly acting sympathomimetics; caffeine; cannabis; cocaine; hallucinogens; inhalants; nicotine; opioids; p hencyclidine (PCP) or similarly acting arylcyclohexylamines; and sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics. Although these 11 classes appear in alphabetical order, the follow ing classes share similar features: alcohol shares features with the sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics; and cocaine shares features with amphetamines or similarly acting sympathomimetics. Also included in this section are Polysubstance Dependence and Other or Unknown Substance-Related Disorders (which include most disorders related to medications or toxins).

What Crosby has done is no different than someone coming up to him and abusing him based on his autism. Its shameful and deeply offensive. This is the 21st Century and Crosby has taken it upon himself to ridicule and abuse a man who has the strength of character to overcome his personal demons and carve out a successful career for himself as an exemplary investigative journalist. If Age of Autism need proof of the calibre of his work they should take a look at the reviews The Panic Virus garnered and compare them to the calibre of the 5 reviews Dan Olmsted could round up for Age of Autism – The Book.

Age of Autism has revealed its truly nasty and shallow depths by abusing a man with a psychiatric disorder. Maybe they should think twice before attacking someone based solely or partly on their disorders in order to whip up negativity in their cult members and start to realise the consequences of their actions. I would wish shame on them but they’ve proven time and time again that shame and self-reflection is an alien emotion to them.