Thursday, March 15, 2012

Orac on AoA and Kent Heckenlively

Orac on AoA and Kent Heckenlively:

I know, I know, I've said before that I try to avoid that site [Age of Autism] these days, and I do. There is nothing there other than pseudoscience, logical fallacies, and conspiracy theories about big pharma, usually laced with ad hominem attacks against skeptical and science-based bloggers like myself accompanied by whining about how the critics of the antivaccine movement are so unfair in making ad hominem attacks against the bloggers at AoA. (Never mind that the attacks usually aren't ad hominem; they're about what the AoA crew writes and how lacking in reason and evidence it is, and only sometimes about the bloggers themselves. Never mind that an ad hominem can be justified if the target's behavior warrants the ad hominem.) It all becomes tiresome after a while, and it rarely manages to appall me any more as it did in the past. I must have grown a thick skin. Even when J.B. Handley launches a childish, all out broadside, it doesn't even faze me anymore.

And then I saw a post by the ever-excitable and clueless Kent Heckenlively, he who makes bizarre speculations about autism science while clearly understanding nothing about it. The post is entitled I Officially Join the Mercury Militia, and it is the most horrifying thing I've seen on AoA. In fact, it's the most horrifying story of autism quackery that I've seen since the death of Tariq Nadama at the hands of a chelationist. All I could think as I read the post is how sorry I felt for Mr. Heckenlively's autistic daughter, whom he has subjected to all manner of quackery in the pursuit of his belief that she is "mercury toxic" and that is the cause of her autism. It also shows just how far down the rabbit hole it's possible for an otherwise intelligent person to go when that person is ignorant of science and fixates on one idea after another about what causes autism. …

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