You read the title to this post correctly there are a number of false heroes in the autism industry. They portray autism as a disease to be cured rather than a neurological difference and then use that portrayal to feather their financial nests. There are many of them. They inhabit many different walks of life, some are doctors, some parents, some simply opportunistic business people. They label themselves as doctors, experts, researchers and scientists, but in the end they are pretty much all quacks, all dangerous, and all in it for the money and the fame.
Some of them started out, I suppose with some genuine desire to help but have been blinded by the quack science they have read, or perhaps the money they are able to make, or in some instances I am sure blinded by the glory and fame bestowed on them by their devoted followers.
A big common theme between them is the claim of miracle cures, the abandonment of real science and research, the use of anecdotal testimony as evidence and the claims of “Big Pharma” and “Government Conspiracy” as wanting to keep people sick just to make money. Of course the massive blind spot that the complimentary and homeopathic medicine industries are massive multi-billion dollar industries themselves seems never to be mentioned or addressed by these so called heroes.
Actually to call them hero is really just a lot of bullshit. They are not heroes they are in fact monsters. They prey on vulnerable families, they tell half-truths and lies, they charge exorbitant amounts of money for treatments that are at best snake oil, and often harmful and abusive. They are not heroes they are monsters.
Modern society is quick to label people heroes, so quick I think we have lost site of what a hero really is. A hero is a soldier in the trenches laying his life on the line. A hero is a diplomat that negotiates a peace treaty to end a war. A hero is not someone who sells a quack treatment to a vulnerable and desperate person who believes they are doing the best for their children.
Who are these monsters then? There are many of them, however for the purpose of this post I will focus on four. The Late Dr Bradstreet, The deregistered Dr Wakefield, The purveyor of bleach Kerri Rivera and the claimed cancer researcher Amanda Mary Jewell.
We shall start with Wakefield.
Wakefield published a study linking vaccines and autism. He reported that there was a link, that the MMR vaccine in particular was a likely cause of autism and responsible for the so called explosion of autism. Wakefield had his study published in the medical journal ‘The Lancet’. Wakefield started in motion a rise of the anti-vaccination movement. He is responsible for so much of the rubbish that is promoted about vaccines and autism. And it turns out, not only was Wakefield totally incorrect in his so-called study, but he was fraudulent.
Since the study was published, I think in 1998, The Lancet has retracted and withdrawn the study. There is evidence that not only was Wakefield’s study fraudulent but that he was in fact paid by a legal company to produce the results that he did. Wakefield has been struck off the medical register and is unable to practice as a doctor any longer.
Unfortunately his fraud has done much damage. He has set in motion a branch of pseudo science that is evangelical in it’s approach. It militarily makes claims about vaccine induced autism, it silences and ridicules people that try to speak truth about the actual science. It has given rise to organisations such as Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue which not only promotes this link but promotes dangerous therapies and treatments like Chelation, a treatment that removes heavy metals from the system. There have been children seriously injured and at least one I am aware of killed.
Even though there are many many studies, there is a list of over 90 available, that counter this rubbish published by Wakefield the myth remains prevalent. Even though 1.25 million children have been the subject of research to show that there is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. No link, not a causation link and not a triggering link. The myth is still pervasive. Some still claim they have vaccine induced autistic children. It’s rubbish, of course, but the myth remains.
Parent support groups in online systems such as social media are rife with those that ardently make the claim that it was vaccine that did it. They offer links that they provide as evidence from homeopathy sites and natural therapy sites such as naturalnews.com and vac truth.com for example. Of course none of these are reputable science or evidence of anything except of course a good dose of quackery and pseudo science. As you attempt to counter with real facts, logic and reason, you are quickly shut down with ridicule and given short shrift by these people, who will often say things along the lines of well you don’t know my child, it happened instantly after they had their shot.
Yes Wakefields so called study even though refuted, retracted and withdrawn and even though Wakefield himself has been exposed and deregistered the damage has been done and is pervasive. Autistic children around the globe are at great risk of dangerous and abusive treatments provided by some more of the so called heroes of autism.
I have gone on a bit long and will continue this discussion in a new post. The next monster to be considered will be the late and not very great Dr Jeff Bradstreet.