How I Got Kicked Out of the AutismOne Con: Part 2 May 30, 2011

How I Got Kicked Out of the AutismOne Con: Part 2

This is a guest post by Jamie Bernstein. Jamie is a graduate student in public policy at the University of Chicago as well as the Vice-President of the Women Thinking Free Foundation. She has previously written about anti-vaxers here and here.

You can (and should) read Part One of Jamie’s story at Skepchick before reading Part Two below.

At this point Ken and I needed a break. As we returned from our trip to Starbucks, we decided to go walk around the exhibition tables again. Plus, I wanted to grab some pictures. Although photographs were not allowed in the lecture areas, there was no indication that they weren’t permitted in the exhibition areas. In fact, I had seen individuals without press passes taking pictures in these sections all day. I also wanted to attend the Blaxil-Olmsted talk on their book Age of Autism since they would be talking about the vaccine-autism connection.

As we walked back into the convention, Ken pointed out a few women who were giving him shocked looks — he thought he was recognized. We stood around for awhile, but no one approached us, so I suggested we just go about with our original plan and hope no one questioned anything. After all, we were just walking around and looking at booths. We weren’t disrupting anything or doing anything against the rules, not to mention our registration had already been approved.

I stopped at a booth that was selling hyperbaric chambers for autistic children and got out my camera to take a picture. Immediately, the director of AutismOne, Teri Arranga, was at my side telling me that pictures were absolutely not allowed. I apologized and told her I hadn’t realized that since it wasn’t written anywhere and I had seen people taking pictures all day. She said it was on signs all over the conference and offered to show me. I agreed, so she got her friend to go grab one of the signs.

The sign they showed me said that audio and video recordings were not allowed, but said nothing about still photography. When I pointed this out, Teri snapped that it was on a different sign and sent her friend to go grab that one. Her rudeness was starting to make me nervous, so I continued to apologize for taking the photo, said I believed her about the sign, promised to delete the photo and asked if I could leave. She ignored all that and instead asked me if I knew Ken Reibel. I said that I did since I wanted to cooperate and be honest.

That’s when hotel security showed up. With no explanation, Teri left Ken and me with three confused officers. I kept asking if I was in trouble, but the guards just responded that they weren’t sure what it was about but had been asked to watch us.

A police officer walked up to Ken and me and said, “Are you aware that you have been asked to leave?” We both replied that no one had previously mentioned kicking us out, but that we would cooperate and go if they wanted us to. From our point of view, it seemed like Teri must have told the police that she had asked us to leave and we refused. This never happened, though.

At this point, Teri said she wanted my camera film… which is kind of a strange thing to ask since this is 2011 and most cameras don’t use film anymore. I told her I didn’t have film, but would be happy to delete the pictures I took. The police officer said that would be fine, but Teri would have none of it. With a shaking voice, she snapped “No, I demand the film!” I said (again) I didn’t have any film, it being a digital camera and all, but took my camera out and erased the two pictures that were on there. She seemed unhappy with this result, but was unable to overturn the police decision.

At this point, Teri and a police officer took Ken aside and I was questioned by the remaining Lombard police officers. They took down all my personal information and kept asking me paranoid questions like “Are you a journalist?” “Do you work for a magazine?” and “Who sent you here?” I answered all questions truthfully, though they weren’t happy with the answers. They seemed convinced I was some big-shot reporter for a magazine and kept harping on that point as I continued to deny such a thing. I kept asking the police if I was in trouble or if I’d done something wrong. They told me I wasn’t in trouble but that they just had to take down my information.

When Teri got back with Ken and the other police officer, we were told that we were being given a trespassing warning and would be arrested if we came back. I asked Teri if we had broken any rules. She got out her conference program and with a voice shaking in anger read us this paragraph:

“We reserve the right not to register any individual based on our own judgment. We further reserve the right to ask any participant to leave the conference if that person’s conduct substantially interferes with the participation of others. No audio or video recording is permitted without advance permission from AutismOne staff.”

To be clear, both Ken and I had our registration approved by AutismOne prior to the event. We didn’t do anything to disrupt the conference or interfere with anyone else’s participation, nor did we use any audio or video equipment. AutismOne had absolutely no legitimate reason for removing us from the conference. When this was pointed out to the police officers, we were told that since it’s a private event, they don’t need a reason to remove us.

At this point, Teri refunded our registration money in cash from her own wallet. Then, all three hotel security guards and the four armed-Lombard police officers marched us out of the conference. When Ken Reibel did some research on the Lombard Police afterwards, he determined that they only have 51 officers and 8 on duty on weekends. That meant that Lombard used 8% of their total workforce and 50% of the officers on duty in order to kick the two of us out of the AutismOne Conference… even though we were being completely cooperative and had not broken any rules.

As you can tell from that picture, Ken and I (posing with our “V for vaccine” gesture) are big, strong and evil! Clearly a need for excessive police force…

As we left, we passed right by David Geier, who watched us leave with an amused look on his face. For those unaware, David and his father Mark Geier have been in some serious trouble in both Maryland and Washington State for their unconventional autism therapies including chemical castration of children. AutismOne decided to kick both Ken and me out, while they gave the Geiers an entire hour on Friday to recruit more parents for their dangerous and unethical therapy.

So, great job AutismOne! You chose to use three security guards and four armed officers to remove two people who were being entirely cooperative. Not to mention that there was no provocation at all and you never gave any reason for removing us. Besides, it’s not like the event was so private. In fact, the entire conference was being live streamed on the Internet, so Ken and I could probably have obtained more information about the conference by staying home and watching on our computers.

The whole controversy seemed to occur due to paranoia on the part of AutismOne, who believed Ken and I were part of some conspiracy to disrupt the conference. “It’s a private conference” is no excuse to treat two rule-abiding people like criminals.

I’d like to end with a quote from Orac’s response to the incident on his Respectful Insolence blog:

“This is not the behavior of an intellectually honest and open movement that wants to persuade based on science and reason. It is the behavior of a group that has something to hide, that prefers shunning and expelling those who aren’t afraid to criticize it to open engagement and attempts to persuade based on the evidence. It is also the behavior of a group that thinks its members can’t stand up to challenges and therefore need to be protected from criticism or contrary views.”

You can also read Ken’s versions of the events here.

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  • Zac

    Mere words cannot describe the sheer loathing I feel for any and all proponents of the anti-vaccine movement.

  • Claudia

    Am I the only one who feels a seething, boiling rage whenever I think of the anti-vaxxers?

    These are people preying on disraught and ignorant parents who want to cling to something, anything, that can explain their childs devastating illness and fearful new parents. That scores of happy, healthy babies could be condemned to easily preventable infectious diseases and even death because parents were told that the vaccine was “dangerous” means nothing to these irresponsible woo-mongerers. They are pure scum.

    Same goes, incidentally, to the quacks telling parents of autistic children that homeopathic “remedies” or a gluten-free diet can “cure” their child and triply so for any asshole that implies that it was the choices of the parents that lead to theis childs autism. The one surefire way a parent can become responsible for their child suffering a crippling illness is if they deny them vaccinations.

  • Lisa R.

    Bravo to our brave investigators! If the conference organizers had a shred of self-awareness they’d realize there’s something wrong with a cause that can’t stand up to the lightest of scrutiny. Or is it that this is how they make their living now?

  • HGPrime

    How is an event private if it’s open for the public to register & pay to attend.
    I don’t think their right to refuse entry to someone is valid even if they do put it on some form.

  • I doubt that they had half of the on-duty police officers there. It is much more likely that the conference paid the officers (at their overtime rate) to be present for security.

  • lurker111

    “It is also the behavior of a group that thinks its members can’t stand up to challenges and therefore need to be protected from criticism or contrary views.”

    In short, they’re a gnat’s eyelash away from being a cult?

  • Mac

    Seriously? People are willing to expose their families, friends and everyone in their communities to easily avoided diseases on non-existant evidence that vaccinations cause autism?

    The only reason I can think of…besides hysteria…for spreading unfounded terror is that people are literally buying it.

  • Janice in Toronto

    “This is not the behavior of an intellectually honest and open movement that wants to persuade based on science and reason. It is the behavior of a group that has something to hide, that prefers shunning and expelling those who aren’t afraid to criticize it to open engagement and attempts to persuade based on the evidence. It is also the behavior of a group that thinks its members can’t stand up to challenges and therefore need to be protected from criticism or contrary views.”

    Hmmmm, sounds suspiciously like a church…

  • The conference organizers say they want to provide “a safe place” for parents. But safe from what? Criticism? Opposing views? Peer pressure?

  • Noodly1

    I’m not surprised at all by the actions of AutismOne. I’m actually shocked that Jamie and Ken got in at all. Someone was obviously asleep at the switch when they approved their registration. For sure they’re on the “do not admit” list now. I think next year they should register as Boris and Natasha. 😀

    Mencken was absolutely right: Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Unfortunately, there will always be people who are willing to be taken advantage of and there will always be those who are willing to take advantage of them.

    What truly amazes me are the number of otherwise intelligent, seemingly rational, fellow non-believers who are anti-vaxxers.

    There’s a very thin line, I think, between healthy skepticism and paranoia/the inability to believe anything, even science, and again, the growing number of skeptics who have crossed that line is scary. Bill Maher is probably the most well-known of this type, but on a personal level, I know quite a few others.

    Curious to know how many others out there in the “skeptic community” have seen this, as well?

  • Revyloution

    To be honest and fair about the police department, I think they acted quite appropriately and professionally. They didn’t confiscate the film, they didn’t handcuff either of them, and they kept the issue from getting out of hand. Concerning the ‘they used 8% of their workforce’ comment, that seems quite specious. If the police department was twice as large, and they sent the same number of officers, then they would have only used 4%. Or if it had been in one of those small towns with only 8 officers total, then it would have been 50%! Dividing the number of responders by the total workforce is just a bit of hyperbole that’s trying to get an emotional response from us skeptics. We should be applauding the police for acting professionally. For an unknown quantity of protesters at a private event, sending 4 officers to diffuse a potential situation seems appropriate.

    HGPrime, a private event is just that. If it was a family reunion, and your nieces boyfriend was drunk and abusive, you are fully within your rights to have him removed from the event, even though he was invited. As insane as the anti-vaccers are, they are still entitled to the same privacy rights as the rest of us.

    I really see this article as good news for the skeptical community. If you look through history, when a group becomes this exclusive, when they close their doors to the general public and refuse to let outsiders scrutinize their positions, they are on decline. Paranoid organizers like this are a good signal that vaccine paranoia is again being driven back to being an underground conspiracy for tin foil hat wearers. Their will always be conspiracy nuts, the danger in the past few years has been the shift to the mainstream. This is a good sign that it is falling out.

  • Revy, I agree that the Lombard Police acted professionally. It’s likely that the conference organizers paid for a police presence, since two patrol cars were parked conspicuously outside the front doors when we arrived at 10 am.

    AutOne may have been within its rights to ask us to leave, but your analogy with a family reunion has some problems. You would have to replace the drunk and abusive boyfriend in your example with a cousin’s ex-husband that nobody likes, but was invited nonetheless. He doesn’t drink, keeps to himself, and is polite in all his interactions, but is asked to leave because he is making some people uncomfortable. Even that example is incomplete, since 99% of the attendees at AutOne had never heard of us.

  • John Santos

    I attended Wakefield’s talk at Brandeis on April 13. As far as I can recall, he didn’t mention the Arizona 5, but it is possible he did refer to them obliquely.

    I need to go through my notes again and research his claims, but I was, like Claudia above, too angry immediately after his talk to do so calmly and rationally at the time. Thank you for keeping your heads in this situation. This is our strongest weapon against nonsense.

  • JR

    Yeah you guys are awesome. You keep it up.

  • Yeah! So what is AutismOne Con? Seems like an important part of the story…

  • Claudia

    @Joe Zamecki,

    Well, a review of their website would indicate that AutismOne is a grouping of every woo-tastic, conspiracy minded, parent-exploiting individual in the autism community. They appear chiefly interested in promoting the false notion that vaccines cause autism and also to sell a veritable rainbow of “alternative treatments” (homeopathic water, gluten free diets, hyperbaric chambers etc.) all promising to “cure” your child of an illness that has no currently available cure.

    I see a lot of promotion of the idea that you “can’t trust” doctors, pharmacists or scientists because they’re “just in it for the money”. I read this much the same way as I do Scientology campaigning against psychatric care. There is an interest by those promoting bullshit non-cures to keep parents away from and distrustful of those professionals best prepared to explain to them why they are being taken advantage of.

  • CS

    Very interesting story. While I do not agree with the anti-vaccine sheep, I do think that diet is an extremely important and highly misunderstood part of illness in the world, and in particular, America. Artificial food dyes have been proven to cause cancer in laboratory rats and are banned in Europe, yet people think nothing of feeding this shit to their kids by the bucket full. ~85 – 95% of food consumed in the US is so full of preservatives that embalming our dead will no longer be necessary, they will already be pre-embalmed! There is clearly a link between diet and health. I would not be surprised at all if the rise in rates of autism ended up being one of the unintended effects of our prepackaged society.

  • Oh, it’s not for nothing that I refer to autism one as the yearly autism/anti-vaccine quackfest:

    Here’s a description of last year’s quackapalooza:

  • Hi Joe Zameki! AutismOne is a yearly conference co-sponsored by the AutismOne organization, and Generation Rescue, famous for “autism is mercury poisoning…no wait it is vaccine injury”

    The best introduction in David Gorski MD’s article at Sciene-Based Medicine, AutismOne the yearly autism anti-vaccine quackfest begins:

  • Claudia

    In depressingly related news, Measles rates in the US reach a 15 year high. The article includes this gem:

    Transmission occurred in households, child care centers, shelters, schools, emergency departments, and at a large community event. The largest outbreak occurred among 21 persons in a Minnesota population in which many children were unvaccinated because of parental concerns about the safety of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. That outbreak resulted in exposure to many persons and infection of at least seven infants too young to receive MMR vaccine.

    To TIME’s credit, they don’t give one iota of false equivalency to the anti vs. pro-vaccination opinion and make absolutely clear that anti-vaccination concerns are based largely on false notions.

  • Ha ha. Wow. Those a*****s think what you were doing (being there?) was worse than castrating kids. That should tell us something!
    At least you got your money back.

  • Adam

    Too bad they were not aware of their rights before they went in. They were under no legal obligation to delete the pictures (even if photography was prohibited and they knew it). Once you take a pic it’s your property and you cannot be ordered to delete it anymore then someone could order you to destroy any other item you own.

    Also, there is something to be said for cooperating but I don’t think I’d of volunteered so much information to the police. Again, they were under no legal obligation if they were not being arrested. In fact, the police detaining them without placing them under arrest and reading them their rights was legally questionable.

  • cat

    Groups like this are hate groups against autistic people. They push “therapies” that are little more than torture, and base their organizations around the notion that autistic people are inferior and in of elimination. You know whose opinions these people will not be asking for-autistic people, especially not adult autistic people who would call thim or their bullshit.

  • Tom

    Criticism and contrary views are a threat to them.

  • Godless Lawyer

    I know more about Canadian law than American, but from what I can see the police behaved appropriately in this situation. It’s also worth noting that events like this often pay the police to have a presence (so officers that might otherwise be off duty will be on duty, paid by the organizers). Most trespass statutes and common law rules do allow a group occupying a premises for a function like this to remove anyone they don’t want there regardless of whether they have a good reason.

    The questions about being with a magazine, etc. were probably to satisfy the police that they weren’t interfering with press freedom, etc.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s right to do what they did and it certainly speaks volumes about the paranoia and resistance to dissent that permeates these groups.

  • dwasifar

    Hemant, you should send Skepchick an email asking her to spell the name of your site correctly. “Athiest” is one of my spelling pet peeves.

  • dwasifar

    Revyloution says: “To be honest and fair about the police department, I think they acted quite appropriately and professionally. They didn’t confiscate the film…”

    What film? There was no film. It was a digital camera. And they did make them delete the pictures.

  • Legion – Giordano Bruno

    perhaps Teri had read the questionaire that you had filled out earlier and took offense to it?

  • Haroon

    You do realize that there’s a 90% chance that those pics can be recovered, assuming you haven’t filled the memory card to the brim since then?

    Recovering and posting them here would be the ultimate fuck you in my opinion. There’s a number of apps that can do this; maybe someone else could mention specific names.

  • Heidi

    The chemical castration “doctors” made me want to throw up. They should be in prison.

  • NoAstronomer

    What kind of a bloody moron demands THE FILM in 2011. No wonder these people are messed up; or is this just another symptom?

  • Revyloution

    Ken Reibel, your’e right, that was a poor analogy. I was just trying to point out that under our current law, organizers of private gatherings have the right to have anyone removed for any reason they see fit.

    dwasifar, by ‘film’, I was referring to the digital card. If the cops were biased towards the event’s promoter, or were just asshats, they might have confiscated the media card or even the camera. Instead, they correctly informed the promoter that she had no right to confiscate any of the property of either of our friendly infiltrators.

  • SpecialNeedsMom

    Surprised at the hatred and venom being spewed at us parents for wanting nothing more than to protect our children from unsafe vaccines. Why do you all choose to attack us so viciously? We have done nothing to you. Our children got hurt and we are trying to heal their bodies. Why does this deserve so much attacking and hatred?

  • Film? Really? That just seems so massively backwards.

    Maybe they long for a return to the age of film *and* Iron Lungs because they were so shiny!

  • @SpecialNeedsMom Venom? Really? I’ve seen the intimidation tactics used by the anit-vax crowd and what you are seeing here doesn’t even come remotely close. Most of what you will see here is frustration and people shaking their heads at some very cult-like antics described in the article.

    As to why we ‘choose to attack’ and ‘we’ve done nothing to you’, you could not be more wrong. The anti-vax movement can seriously hurt people both intentionally (their utterly vicious attacks on people who disagree with them) and unintentionally (dropping vaccination rates leading to outbreaks). I can give plenty of examples if you like.

  • Dave X


    The criticism you perceive as hatred and venom is aimed at the charlatans hawking the modern day leeches, bleeding, trepannation, etc, and those that support them.

    Using some of these snake oils on the your kids is child abuse worthy of state intervention.

  • Rich Wilson

    and asked if I could leave

    I probably would have done the same thing. But at home I’d be kicking myself for asking their permission. Only the police could keep you from leaving, if they wanted to arrest you.

    I think best would be to announce you’re leaving (without deleting any photos) and if they raise a fuss, you have a case for false arrest.

  • Rich Wilson

    I think I found a use for that old roll of film. If anyone ever kicks me out of a conference and asks for ‘my film’, I’ll happily hand it over 🙂

  • Father


    Yes, the hatred that AutismOne showed against parents like Ken Reibel is pretty disgusting. Apparently, merely being in the presence of someone who doesn’t buy their crap is deeply threatening to the scammers.

  • Chris


    Surprised at the hatred and venom being spewed at us parents for wanting nothing more than to protect our children from unsafe vaccines.

    Wait! I did not know that the Geiers, Wakefield, Byron Katie are parents of special needs kids! Who knew?

    By the way, do you actually support those who experiment on children like ours? Why?

  • For those mentioning that I should recover the photographs, I don’t think it’s worth it. There were only two and they weren’t particularly interesting. The first one was of one of the exhibition rooms and I only took it because it was pretty (the room had neat couches and cool lighting). The second one was of the booth selling hyperbaric chambers. Neither were worth kicking me out for (especially considering there wasn’t even a rule against photography). I only took them at all because Hemant kept telling me how much he wanted pictures of the event. I blame Hemant!

  • saoili

    SpecialNeedsMom: I really hope you’re not trolling. The more I read about the anti-vac moment, the more I want to talk to some of the parents who believe this stuff. How were you convinced that vaccinations caused your child’s autism? Can you think of any way in which you could be convinced otherwise? Have you come across stories like this one: ? Even if you are right and vaccines give some children autism; not vaccinating kills children. It mostly babies too young to have even had the vaccine. I don’t understand how and why autism has been set up as worse than death, but it seems that it has. I know some autistic adults. They are all glad to be alive.

  • Chris


    I don’t understand how and why autism has been set up as worse than death, but it seems that it has.

    Especially with the new AoA/Generation Rescue schtick of a “Canary Party.” They are comparing autistic children to canaries in a coal mine. Except those canaries actually died.

    For one thing I find it disgusting to compare children to dead canaries. And another thing is if those children are particularly sensitive to vaccines, then what would happen to them if they actually had measles, pertussis, hib, etc?

    Of course I have actually seen them write that it is okay for certain children to die, it is all part of “natural selection.” My son has a severe genetic heart disorder that happens to one out of a thousand people, I think their eugenics thinking is disgusting (he also suffered a bad seizure while he had a now vaccine preventable diseases). I usually ask them why they think my son deserves to die, and the response is “I didn’t say that!” Except I can point out exactly where they said in a comment.

  • Jim

    There was an Andy Rooney 60 minutes show where he tried to drive into Camp David and were stopped. Andy Rooney said “the guards demanded our video tape. The only reason you are seeing this is that we accidentally gave them a blank tape” Keep one of your old 16 MB memory cards taped to the back of your camera.

  • Kayla

    Quite frankly I find the entire anti-vax movement as it pertains to autism (which more often times than not it does) to be terribly offensive. The insinuation that a person would be better off dying in childhood from a preventable disease than having autism is hurtful and offensive beyond words. It seems as if these people would rather their children (and their neighbor’s children) be at risk of and possibly die from Measles and a whole host of other preventable conditions than have to “put up with” their own autistic offspring. To make matters worse these people also often times subject their children to crackpot snake oil “cures” that are often borderline torchure just seems to reinforce the idea that these people would rather their children die a horrible and unnecisary death than be autistic. The fact that no reliable proof has been brought forward to link autism to vaccinations only adds injury to insult and the fact that some people still hold faith in this disturbing point of view is quite frankly agrivating and depressing.

  • Ross Coe

    Its disheartening to read comments on many sites, and forums that are basically functioning as vehicles that spread frustration and confusion. Opponents are biased and exaggerate to make their “opinions” heard. Opinions however are not factual and are proof that opinions are just that. I also find it bizarre, that after researching for 15 years I have never come across ethical proof vaccines (not just the MMR) are safe, but I have read about many serious vaccine side effects published by their producers. I had viewed a consistent publicized message that vaccines cause only rare and mild injury, but then read about injury that is neither rare or mild. I have observed the United States government step in to save an industry that was being litigated into bankruptcy by establishing the Vaccine compensation program which includes the vaccine court. I have observed this progress until it has included blanket immunity from litigation. One wonders, since no other industry seems to need this type of intervention, why do vaccine makers. Are their for profit products benign, pristine, and truly health giving, or we’re they almost litigated out of business because it was found by the courts over and over, that these products really were faulty and dangerous? Evidence tends to highly support the faulty, dangerous product scenario.

  • Father

    Ross Coe:

    Why are you trying to discourage people from using the vaccine court to get compensation for vaccine injuries?

  • Jim

    Rose Coe Says: Evidence tends to highly support the faulty, dangerous product scenario.

    From where? Andrew Wakefield? Jenny McCarthy? Compared to what? Try reading about the death rates from Diphtheria in the 1920s before the vaccine was developed. Or the recent death rates in the former USSR. Do you really want the “vaccine industry” to collapse?

  • Chris

    Mr. Coe, it is so nice to see you again! I know I have asked you this many times, but you never seem to come back with an answer: Have you figured out yet why measles caused Roald Dahl’s daughter to lose her ability to speak?

    Please don’t run away, come back and go back to Respectful Insolence and give us an answer. We really want to know how what happened to Olivia Dahl “sounds like … autistic children.”

  • I think I found a use for that old roll of film. If anyone ever kicks me out of a conference and asks for ‘my film’, I’ll happily hand it over 🙂

    And my flash powder and glass plates just to be sure.

  • To clarify a point of law (not that I’m a lawyer, but I am an amateur photographer and have heard of this kind of thing happening on many occasions), they have no basis for asking for your film or asking for you to delete the digital photos. (I know you did the latter willingly, but still they can’t “require” you to do so.)

    I can walk into a private yet, publicly accessible location (e.g. a mall) and begin taking photos. The owners can decide they don’t like me doing so and ask me to leave. I then must leave, of course, but they can’t demand the photos I took or say I must destroy them. (They definitely can’t try to confiscate your camera or memory card.)

    A good resource for any photographer is The Photographer’s Right ( ).

    I know you were trying to be cooperative, but I just figured I’d clarify that you had every right to keep those photos intact while you left. In fact, you could undelete the photos (if you haven’t taken more on that memory card) and Teri/AutismOne couldn’t do a single thing to stop you from posting them online.

  • Lakshmi

    I find it utterly disgusting how a bunch of stupid people with their antivax agenda will be responsible in driving this country back to the dark ages where diseases to which you and I are immune to will make a come-back because some idiots did not get vaccinated against them. Whooping cough(Pertussis), which was totally eradicated is making a come-back because some fundamentalist moron decided not to vaccinate their kid and sent them to schools to spread their ignorance. I would be amused to sit and watch this country’s fate in the hands of a bunch of fundamentalist idiots.

  • Lakshmi

    All kids entering kindergarten are required to produce a copy of their immunization records to the school authorities. What’s infuriating is the fact that some people, claiming on religious grounds, seek an exemption for not vaccinating their kids. Is that right? Is that fair? What if that kid ends up carrying a deadly infectious disease?

  • Niklaus Pfirsig

    I have a 17 year old son who is autistic, having regressed within three months after the first MMR vaccine. My son, while classified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) actually exhibit symptoms more closely matching the DSM-IV criteria for Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD). Unlike truly autistic individuals,  victims of CDD outgoing and friendly, very trusting and fearless,  The first step in curing or preventing a disease lies in understanding the disease process. In the 15 years since my son’s  diagnosis, I’ve followed research from around the world trying to understand the pathology involved. There are several things I’ve noticed.   First, autism has become a heavily politicized issue. Like AIDS in the 1970s, there seems to be an almost religious opposition to medical research that doesn’t support the foregone conclusion that autism must be genetic.  Yes, the politicians, in their infinite wisdom were saying, “We don’t know what causes it, but we know it isn’t a vaccine!”. This seems to be the case in every English speaking country, but recently the claim has changed to “We know it’s genetic, all we have to do is find the autism gene and turn it off”, which implies “Your kid is autistic because you have inferior genes”.  Doesn’t anyone else ave a problem when a supposed expert effectively says they know it’s genetic, they just have to prove it. Is this any different from the crowd that knows that it’s the vaccine? What about idea of following the evidence to where it leads us, rather than deciding what the result we want and ignoring any evidence to the contrary. I have two sons. the older is on the autistic spectrum. The younger one, at 14 years old is above average intellectually. Both my sons have had the MMR vaccine. We have taken part in genetic studies, there is no prior incidence of autism in either of our family histories.The line of research I’ve been following gets little press, but it is indicating that late onset autism  is a chronic degenerative autoimmune disorder, triggered by a complex interaction between a specific genetic immunodeficiency  and viral infections that interact with that deficiency. The list of viral agents includes Measles, herpes, CMV and RSV among others. This is science. The politicization of a disease seems to polarizing effect on the layman explanations of the disease. There are those who believe the vaccines are 100 percent safe and effective against disease, and at the other extreme are those who believe the vaccines have so completely eradicated diseases and are no longer necessary. Both attitudes are equally dangerous.Vaccines are not 100 percent effective, not are they 100 percent safe, due to the fact that we are evolving, and viruses are also evolving. There are thousands of documented adverse reactions to vaccines, including death, and permanent disability. On the other hand, vaccines have greatly reduced deaths from diseases which used to kill millions, and to stop vaccine programs would soon result in resurgence of epidemic and pandemics events.The political beliefs take on a “my way or the highway” attitude. The believers of vaccine perfection are quick to accuse anyone who dares suggest vaccines are not perfect, as the enemy, the “AntiVaxers, followers of a Pseudo-scientific cult who are ignorant of the Truth”. The other extreme, those opposed to vaccines see the pharmaceutical industry with their callous “profit above humanity motivation” as pushers of bad medicine,  Neither have bothered to even attempt to understand the evidence, preferring to parrot digested stats from unknown sources that back their particular viewpoints.  Someone once said that there are three types of lies: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.  While it is technically true that the numbers don’t lie, the meaning of the numbers must be interpreted by people who tend to let their prejudices guide them. Statistical studies cannot show cause and effect. Their value lies in helping us see where to look. I prefer to trust hard science, where causation can be traced through directly measurable empirical results, over the soft science of statistical studies, where the results can and often are shaded through operant bias.In the politics surrounding Autism, hard research has fallen into the crossfire of no man’s land, between the two camps of the vaccine issue.  Most medical researchers of the autism-immune system connection are intent on making vaccine protocols safer by finding ways to determine who is at risk, and providing alternate vaccine protocols in those cases.  There are a few options.    One suggestion is to except high risk individuals from taking the vaccine. If the percentage of at risk children is small enough, they will be protected from the disease through herd immunity. This means that the majority who can safely take the vaccine will reduce the exposure to the smaller high risk group. Another approach would be the use of an alternative vaccine, such as a viral protein fragment  instead of the attenuated live virus vaccines currently used. Yet another strategy, could be in temporarily addressing the immunodeficiency long enough for the vaccine to the desired immunity.Politics is not the answer.

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