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more quackery

My blog has seen a bit of a spike in activity recently. Apparently, it is coming up with Google searches. I suppose this is gratifying, but of course, the majority of people who comment are idiots. It has, however, made it even clearer to me why nonsense and abuse of science must be attacked on every possible front, even when it appears innocent, well-intentioned, or committed by those with legitimate (or legitmate-sounding) degrees. This article from the Chicago Tribune further underscores the need with respect to the treatment of autism.

I have nothing but the deepest sympathies for families facing this kind of illness in a family member, but that does not excuse the con-men who prey on the desperation of these families by using their autistic children in essentially uncontrolled experiments. Even if one of these miracle treatments really worked, the way they are going about it is both unscientific and highly unethical.

Science is slow, and this is unfortunate. Would that in a perfect world it could be done more quickly. But anything worth knowing is acquired methodically and with precision in science so that the claims of science are provably true. The wild claims of those who would abuse science, who would reject its careful methodology, also inevitably end up rejecting its truth claims. If there is one possible correct treatment for autism in the universe (or even half a dozen), there are so many millions or billions of other things one could try in its place, quacks and snake-oil salesmen peddling miracle cures, they are essentially playing the lottery, in the thin and fragile hope that they will maybe find something that helps their child... but they ignore the greater likelihood that they will actually harm the child rather than help him.

"You have a duty to make sure there is good reason to believe it might work and not hurt your child," said Douglas Diekema, a bioethicist at Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children's Research Institute.

It is difficult to be patient while science does its work, Zimmerman said. But, he added: "Above all, do no harm."

Via pharyngula.


Nov. 24th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
A round up of responses to the Trib article, and more
I'm not Anon., I just don't have an OpenID or LiveJournal ID.

My name is Liz Ditz, and I blog at the link below.

As I often do for stories of this type, I’m keeping a running list or index of pro- and con- blog posts. This post is on the list.

The list is here


For readers new to the world of biomedical treatment, it is worth noting that a number of bloggers who are affected by autism are pro-science and pro-vaccine. They repudiate the world of "Age of Autism", Generation Rescue, and "Defeat Autism Now!"(DAN!). I will mention a few (in no particular order) the group blog LeftBrain/RightBrain (leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/) Natural Variation (http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/) Countering Age of Autism (http://counteringageofautism.blogspot.com/) Autism News Beat (http://autism-news-beat.com/) and Club 166 (http://club166.blogspot.com). There are many more.

Nov. 27th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
Re: A round up of responses to the Trib article, and more


science wins

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