A “humor” website (I’m not linking and please don’t give them traffic by searching) has headlined an article “New Study Shows 92% Of Convicted Murderers Suffer From Aspergers Syndrome,” citing a nonexistent “study” set to appear in The American Journal of Medicine (AJM). They claimed the results of new research concluded “that roughly 92 percent of murderers fell somewhere within the high-functioning autism spectrum.”
The story, of course, is false, but nothing indicated it was a spoof. It even concluded by soliciting media interviews for the “doctor” behind the “research.” It is already being circulated as fact.
The journal reacted with outrage, saying no such article existed, and they were already being contacted by real media outlets asking about the study:
We felt the need to quickly clarify that this story was false, since the journal’s editorial office had been contacted about the fake research by news media and Asperger’s supporters, and the hoax article has been quoted on the Internet as factual. No such article was ever submitted to the journal, and as far we know, the blog post is meant to be a spoof. To get the word out, AJM posted a story on the journal’s blog, tweeted the blog post, and alerted the journal’s Facebook fans.
“This is a complete hoax and fraudulent,” said AJM Editor-in-Chief Dr. Joseph S. Alpert. “In the first place, this topic has nothing to do with internal medicine, and we would never publish something on this topic.”
This hits home on two fronts: I have a child with ASD, and my wife was editor of both The American Journal of Medicine and The American Journal of Surgery many years ago. She alerted me to the story when it came across her Elsevier feed this morning.
The kind of hit-trolling, low-intellect sadist who thinks it’s funny to demonize an already misunderstood population, while also dragging a revered journal’s name through the mud, is all too common on the internet. This isn’t humor. This is wicked little people pulling the wings off flies for their own amusement.