As I tried to comment on Dr. Bob Sears’ Facebook post last night, I encountered a group of people that very much worry me, for lack of a better term. They worry me because they have come to view the world in a certain way based solely on their experiences with autism. They don’t question what they feel, what they see, what others tell them, or what they intuitively agree with. They do question anything that doesn’t jive with how they feel or how they see the world.
For example, we have this woman:
That’s it. She doesn’t need any more evidence than what is in front of her in the form of 5 nephews. It doesn’t matter if the autistic kids share something between them that they don’t share with the non-autistic kids. It’s the vaccines that did that to them.
Then there is this person:
Studies on unvaccinated children versus vaccinated have been done retrospectively (because prospective studies that would randomize children into vaccinated and unvaccinated groups would be unethical). There is no difference between autistic children and non-autistic children when it comes to immunizations. None. They both got them, and they both got them in similar doses and concentrations.
But then I ventured to this article on Time.com and read those comments… And I read a very chilling one:
She wrote, “We lost my son after that, and he became extremely ill.” Another commenter said that he was sorry for the death of her child, but I don’t think the child died. She wrote that they “lost” her son and then he became ill. If you follow that sequence, then you see yet another comment in which the development or recognition of autism in a child is seen as a tragedy or a disaster. And it is something I see more and more as I make the rounds in anti-vaccine places online: Parents who see their autistic children as “lost” and/or “helpless” and express some feeling of despair, guilt, and a willingness to find those responsible for that “loss” and bring them to justice.
All these folks, and many more with similar willingness to ignore the evidence and follow the gurus (aka “Autism’s False Prophets“) are willing participants in a series of events that is spreading misinformation, pseudo-science, quackery, and outright lies around the world faster than we, the scientists, can catch up with them. We try. We go and comment and get called pharma shills or threatened with losing our jobs or worse. Or we spend countless hours at school and at work, trying to understand immunology, neurology, and all those bits of science that will bring better living to people on any end of any spectrum.
By God, we try.
But it’s so scary and so unnerving to know that there are people who are so sold on the idea that vaccines cause autism and that there is a massive plot to give autism to children the world over. It’s scary because herd immunity against serious threats is waning. If we have a severe flu pandemic, less than half of the population will get vaccinated. There are children dying of measles in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Measles! A vaccine-preventable disease that was almost wiped out up until some British jerk of a doctor decided to publish a fraudulent case series claiming autism was caused by the MMR vaccine.
It is also unnerving because we have willing participants in the anti-vaccine movement who pray that the world ends in order to end their own suffering. Or they pray, literally, that those who oppose the anti-vaccine groups be utterly destroyed. Think I’m kidding? Just read this post (warning, it’s at an anti-vaccine blog). In it, the author writes such things as:
“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.”
Dark forces? And:
“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.
This was the passage my finger landed on.”
He then goes on to quote Psalm 94 from the Old Testament. That Psalm is all about an angry God bringing death and destruction to the people who have wronged and abused the writer of the Psalm. It reads in part: “He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.”
The author of that post concludes with this:
“If you’re listening God, and it meets with Your approval, this week would be an excellent time to deal with them.”
Dear God, indeed… Especially knowing what the author of that post put his daughter through.