Autism, Pseudoscience And Skepticism – Now A New Development To Watch Out For

just on the heels of my talk about pseudoscience, education, autism, etc. in Berlin

From Forbes, Steven Salzberg - Nobel laureate joins anti-vaccination crowd at Autism One:

“It’s no surprise that Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield, leaders of the anti-vaccine movement, are speaking at AutismOne.  Much more surprising is the presence of Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of the link between the HIV virus and AIDS.  What is he doing at this festival of pseudoscience?

Well, apparently Montagnier has gone off the deep end into pseudoscience himself. He claims that his new group, Chronimed, has discovered in autistic children

“DNA sequences that emit, in certain conditions, electromagnetic waves. The analysis by molecular biology techniques allows us to identify these electromagnetic waves as coming from … bacterial species.”

What the heck? In what seems to be a desperate effort to stay relevant, Montagnier is promoting wild theories with little scientific basis, and now he is taking advantage of vulnerable parents… to push a therapy of long-term antibiotic treatment for autistic children.”

Apparently not just autism, but “Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, and rheumatoid arthritis” – just joining the long line of ‘therapies’ and ‘cures’ that exist out there.

Out later today, interviews at the World Skeptics Congress with attendees and presenters, over at www.tokenskeptic.org.

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • http://www.tetherdcow.com Reverend Anaglyph

    Montagnier is a fruitcake. I wrote about him a while ago in relation to his idea of ‘ghost’ dna, which homeopaths were all over.

    http://www.tetherdcow.com/?p=10525

    Here’s a quote from him:

    “I can’t say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions (used in homeopathy) are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.”

    Just because you’ve got a Nobel prize doesn’t mean you can’t hold nutty ideas. And there is some controversy around his Nobel status anyway.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      *headdesk* – thanks for the link.

      • http://www.tetherdcow.com Reverend Anaglyph

        Yeah, *headdesk* and then again. It’s frikkin’ depressing. We have enough problems without them getting to claim they have ‘scientists’ on their side.

    • Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

      Yep, loon.

  • Black Antelope

    Long term Antibiotics?

    Great, the quacks managed to find a ‘treatment’ that will not only do nothing/harm the patient, but will now harm the rest population by spreading bacterial resistance.

    Not like TDR-TB is already emerging.
    I’m sure CA-MRSA picking up some more resistance cassettes would be excellent fun /sarcasm

  • Enkidum

    The analysis by molecular biology techniques allows us to identify these electromagnetic waves as coming from … bacterial species.

    What. The. Fuck?

    These are some pretty novel molecular biology techniques. Damn…

  • Juli

    What I don’t understand, and I’ve asked this of the anti-vaccine crowd before, is that, considering how complex the human body is and how complex vaccines are, why do vaccines only seem to cause autism? Why don’t they cause long term paralysis? Or strokes? Chronic respiratory problems? The brain is pretty much the most protected and difficult to damage part of the human body, why are vaccines affecting it and only it?

    • unbound

      Unfortunately, I think there are two aspects of the same issue that help direct parents to support this nonsense and the people that come up with the drivel. Keep in mind that the bulk of the anti-vaccine crowd are parents with autistic children or have been stirred up by the fear of having an autistic child by those with an autistic child.

      It is hard for many parents of an autistic child to accept that simply being who they are led to the child being in this shape (since autism is largely / entirely genetic). Most people look for scapegoats, so when a scapegoat is offered (vaccines in this case), they will happily jump onboard and encourage that line of thought. I do think religion is a component of this since it teaches that you get what you deserve…therefore a flawed child is evidence of your own sins.

      The other aspect is that an autistic child really means that the parent is potentially autistic as well. I didn’t even realize that I had Asperger’s (I’m old enough that the it wasn’t commonly identified back then) until my youngest was diagnosed and, as the psychiatrist described the symptoms of my son, I realized that I had been that way all my life (I was simple described as a problem child in my youth). Whereas I am fine with the understanding of my own autism, I can easily imagine many parents being in strong denial.

      This is why you aren’t probably going to get an answer to your questions Juli. People are looking for a better way out, and both logic and science are not providing that path for them.

  • Sas

    “The analysis by molecular biology techniques allows us to identify these electromagnetic waves as coming from … bacterial species.”

    Wait … are these midichlorians? Are autistic people actually jedis?

  • saguhh00

    As if Kary Mullis with his beliefs in astrology, alien abductions and HIV denial, we now have Luc Montagnier.
    How long until we have a Young Earth Creationist with a Nobel Prize in Physiology?


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