The Battle Is Joined
Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 24, 2008
There is a well-publicized, well-funded war by anti-science types, led by a few mendacious jerks like Andrew Wakefield, that’s led to the breakdown of measles herd immunity in the UK and the weakening thereof in the US. The reason? The totally unfounded and utterly debunked claim that a) there is a “worldwide autism epidemic” and b) vaccines are the alleged culprits.
Until recently, the pro-science and pro-child voices have been drowned out by the celebrity power of the likes of Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy. But more and more actual experts like Steve Novella are taking up the pro-science cause — and that’s scaring the antivax crowd enough to send out Dr. John Poling and David Kirby to attack him:
Dr. Poling’s letter looks like part of a coordinated attack by the mercury militia. David Kirby has joined in.
I think I know what’s going on here. Antivaccinationists can dismiss me when I post about mitochondrial disorders because I’m a cancer surgeon and researcher, and autism and vaccines are not my primary area of expertise. They can also point to my use of a pseudonym to try to tear down my credibility. At the same time, they can proudly point to Dr. Poling, who is a neurologist, as an actual authority giving credence to their beliefs.
Then along comes Steve Novella. Not only is he a neurologist, too, just like Dr. Poling, but he’s also an academic neurologist–just like Dr. Poling. Not only that, but he’s an academic neurologist at Yale, which is on par with Johns Hopkins, which, if I remember correctly, is where Dr. Poling is on faculty. Not only that, Dr. Novella doesn’t buy the whole vaccines-cause-autism myth, and he knows how to argue against it. He even understands quite a bit about mitochondrial disorders and can say why antivaccinationists are misusing the science there and how Dr. Poling is letting them. Consequently, Dr. Novella is seen as a much more serious threat than I or many of the other bloggers who have criticized the whole claim that vaccines somehow “trigger” autism in children with mitochondrial disorders. He has to be countered; he can’t be ignored. A counterattack had to be launched.
My only question is this: Who put Dr. Poling up to writing that letter? J. B. Handley, perhaps? David Kirby? Mark Blaxill? Who knows? What I do know is that this reeks of a coordinated program, given that Dr. Poling’s letter has been posted at Age of Autism and David Kirby has posted about this on the Huffington Post.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Jon Poling — the antivax exponent cited above — has both a wife and a colleague who disagree strongly with him as to the cause of his child’s autism:
I don’t think anyone disputes that your daughter has autism according to the DSM-IV criteria.
What we do (at least I do) doubt is that her autism was ’caused’ by her vaccines. I’ve seen no definitive statements from anyone aside from yourself and David that that is the case. The case study you co-authored with Shoffner et al stated ‘autistic-like’ symptoms following vaccination. This means she had symptoms like those found in autism and indeed, a side-by-side comparison of those listed in your case study and the DSM-IV criteria clearly shows that Hannah lacks a goodly amount necessary to give her a diagnosis of autism.
Indeed, this also seems to be the opinion of one of your co-authors – John Shoffner, who states:
Jon Poling, says Shoffner, has been “muddying the waters” with some of his comments. “There is no precedent for that type of thinking and no data for that type of thinking,” Shoffner says.
and indeed, your wife, Terry Poling RN, made this statement to the Yahoo Group ‘Recovered Children’ in Nov 2001*:
She has mitochondrial disease which causes her autism.
No mention of vaccines causing her autism.
This is by no means the end of the fight. It’s just the beginning.
*Actually, she made the statement in March 2004, in Post #12098 on the Recovered Kids Yahoo Group. I now have a screen shot in case it’s ever made to go away.
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