I watched the PBS Frontline on the Vaccine Wars and they still don't get it, five years on.
In 2010 I blogged about their first "Vaccine Wars"for Psychology Today. Five years later they're still ignoring both of the 500lb gorillas in the room. And refusing to admit what should be blindingly obvious to any unbiased observer--the main cause of the belief that vaccines cause autism lies not with parents' hysterical fears or ignorance of 'REAL science' but with the medical establishment's gross stupidity (if it's no worse than that) in dealing with autism.
Look, John, see the gorillas! Gorilla Number One is something that Frontline admitted in a quick screen flash that was over, wholly without comment, in a couple of seconds--that autism has increased by a whopping 6000% over the last few decades. Gorilla Number Two is the fact that they and the medical establishment continue to completely ignore: that there are two kinds of autism, one clearly genetic and unvarying from the start, the other occurring in previously normal children and triggering rapid regression to an autistic state. Obviously something in the environment is implicated in these cases. But what?
Clearly the two gorillas are related. Evil twins. If autism has soared and if a lot of it (how much, nobody knows--talk about that for neglect of responsibility!) consists of late-onset, regressive autism, part of the cause has to be something in the environment that wasn't present before. The obvious move for any responsible medical establishment is to start looking for the new factor(s).
Did they? Not for one second. They blandly told us that the increase was due to broader diagnostic criteria, better diagnosis, wider public awareness. The regressive autism cases? Well, that was just that the parents were in denial until they were eventually forced to face the truth--their "kids" had been autistic all along but they hadn't recognized it.
I don't like it when people insult my intelligence. I get apoplectic when those people masquerade as the voice of REAL science. What the medical establishment offers is not even junk science. It's nothing more than the face-saving reaction of any large human organization, which is always self-protective and always strives to pass itself off as omniscient. If doctors are the all-knowing guardians of our health that they think they are, how can they say that they don't have a clue about what's causing the staggering increase in autism?
So they pretend that the causes are what they've always been--strictly genetic--and that therefore there hasn't REALLY been an increase, and that if you think there has, you're an ignorant idiot. Which is absolute self-serving crap, as anyone with half a brain can see. Can you imagine how a parent feels who has just seen a bright and promising toddler with a whole fruitful and happy life ahead of him or her suddenly regress to a prelingual presocial state, maybe just days or weeks after a vaccination (or more likely, with today's protocols in place, a whole batch of vaccinations, some against diseases you're unlikely ever to see, but Big Medicine's mantra is CAN DO, WILL DO). What would you think? Oh no it can't be the vaccine because a man in a white coat told me it wasn't?
So the anti-vaccine movement is the natural and inevitable reaction of any normal human to the cretinous obstructionism of the medical establishment. You broke it, you doctors--now go fix it!
The medical establishment could fix the anti-vax movement by simply telling the truth. By saying, loud and clear: yes, we're sorry, we dropped the ball on this one, but clearly there's something new at work here, and it's almost certainly something in the environment, so we're going to work our butts off finding out what it is, no holds barred--and, parents of autistic children, we welcome any input you can give us!
Will they? Come on, what world are you living in?
A funny world indeed, where police work is more scientific than science. I kid you not. Faced with a crime where there's no obvious suspect, a good detective doesn't say, "Oh well, maybe it didn't happen". A good detective suspects everyone until s/he has a prime suspect (or at least a "person of interest") in sight. A good detective doesn't rule out any possible suspect unless that suspect can supply an unbreakable alibi. Even if s/he can't solve the case, a good detective never, ever gives up--sometimes, not even after retirement. Those are just the things that a good scientist should always do. And what a frightening number of self-described scientists today wouldn't even dream of doing.
Me, I don't rule out anything. Vaccines are relatively low on my list of suspects. PCBs somewhere in the middle. Pride of place: pesticides, and genetically engineered foods that have been exposed to pesticides. Of course, now we are realizing there are wide differences in individual reactions, it could be multi-causal. But pesticides are the prime suspects, because the UC Davis study showed that pregnant women in sprayed areas were 60% likelier to have autistic children and because the Swanson et al. paper showed an R = 0.989 for the autism-GMO/glyphosate connection.
It's high time to get the show on the road. I'm already preparing a list of all the leading U.S. science writers and editors who will shortly receive an open letter asking them why they have abdicated their responsibility to the American public and failed to publicize the great and growing threat that the monstrous increase in the use of glyphosate and other pesticides poses to us all.