Déjà Vu Blogfest—Calling Out the Pro-Disease Cult

deja_vu_2014

DL Hammons is hosting another Déjà Vu blogfest, after taking a break last year. Click on the button to go to the list of participants. This post from January, “Diseases and Historical Fiction, Part I” is a bit on the long side, but the information desperately needs repeating. And if you’re one of those anti-science, tinfoil conspiracy theorists who giggles polio off as no big deal, wants your kids to get measles, talks about those of us with ASDs like we’re sub-human and not perfect just as we are, takes your kids to a chiroquacktor instead of a pediatrician, and cites mommy blogs, YouTube videos, and websites like YourDoctorIsAMurderer.Com to support your insanity, you can go screw yourself.

***

Since I always mostly read older or historical books, and watched mostly classic or historical films, I’ve always been aware of how frightening the childhood diseases of the not-too-distant past were (and continue to be in Third World countries). Unlike the modern-day vaccine-denialist cult, I understand how contagious these diseases are, how they can kill, maim, and cause much suffering. They weren’t Magickally dying out anyway, coincidentally right at the exact same time the vaccine for each was introduced. Running water, better sanitation, and improved medicines only helped to improve survival rates in the 20th century, NOT incidence rates. Correlation does not freaking prove causation. We only see higher rates of diabetes, food allergies, autism, and ADHD now because of greater awareness, broadening diagnostic criteria, and no longer institutionalising such children or hiding them away at home in shame.

Real research does not entail looking at confirmation-bias, conspiracy theory, non-scholarly, one-sided, propagandistic articles from notoriously dangerous pseudoscience sites like whale.to, Mercola, Tenpenny, Sears, Natural “News,” your chiroquacktor’s webpage, or VINE. Real research is not about working backwards from a set in stone belief and ignoring or mocking everything that doesn’t back up your rigid POV. Real research includes peer-reviewed, unbiased scholarly journals, not random blogs and YouTube videos. You do not know more than the entire scientific community because you spent some time Googling.

Vaccines do not freaking cause autism, but even if they somehow did and Andy Fakefield hadn’t been exposed as an unethical liar and stripped off the UK Medical Register, an autistic child is much better than one who died of measles, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, mumps, chickenpox, or tetanus. How dare you claim there are no autistic adults and call your own children cursed, damaged, soulless, defective, not real people!

Autism spectrum disorders are simply a neurobiological difference, not a deviation from the perfect “norm” you were expecting. Autism has always existed, only had different names in the past, and was more hidden from the public view, like mental illness and Down’s Syndrome. Today we have better diagnostic criteria, can identify the signs earlier, and include a range of conditions on a spectrum. Same goes for food allergies, diabetes, ADHD, asthma, whatever else these zealots falsely blame on vaccines.

Parents in the old days lined up around the block for diphtheria toxin-antitoxin, polio vaccines, whooping cough vaccines, measles vaccines, etc. They knew firsthand how awful the diseases are, and wanted so badly to save their children from needlessly suffering and/or dying. They trusted medical authorities and didn’t smirk about how they knew more than experienced toxicologists, immunologists, bacteriologists, virologists, specialists in infectious diseases, pediatricians, biologists, and medical doctors. They had seen children suffering and dying.

Parents 50, 100, 300, 500 years ago didn’t excitedly throw diphtheria parties, giggle about how awesome it is to have “natural immunity,” ignore everything doctors told them in favour of homeopathic woo and dangerous quackery like chelation and bleach enemas, declare how happy they were to have deliberately gotten their kids sick with whooping cough, dismiss measles as a minor rash that never kills, shrug off polio as not dangerous and no big deal, or put more stock in extremely rare vaccine reactions than the truly real risk of dying from a disease.

Diseases which were all but eradicated in the West, like measles, mumps, and whooping cough, have been making frightening comebacks due to the breakdown in herd immunity and large pockets of unvaccinated people. Vaccines do not “shed.” The people spreading these diseases are unvaccinated. They infect people too young to be vaccinated, or unable to be vaccinated due to legitimate medical issues. Vaccinated children are healthier than unvaccinated children.

No child “deserves” to die because s/he was premature, formula-fed, suffering a medical condition, or not the child of crunchier than thou hippies living in a yurt, “unschooling” their kids, eating only raw organic food, and relying on homeopathic garbage like coffee enemas, colloidal silver, and baking soda. You are morally bankrupt if you defend child murderers by blaming Shaken Baby Syndrome on vaccines.

There’s never been a single doubt in my mind that vaccines have saved untold lives all around the world since their introduction, that they’re extremely safe and effective. I never believed Andy Fraudfield’s study for one blessèd moment, since I always knew autism is something one is born with. Again, correlation does not prove causationPeople with Autism Spectrum Disorders are not damaged, cursed, soulless, or less than real people. I dare these people to tell me to my face that I, someone on the highest-functioning, mildest end of the spectrum and undiagnosed for 29 years due to my specific condition essentially not having a name when I was growing up, am damaged, diseased, in need of a “cure,” not equal to someone with a neurotypical brain.

If my regular readers couldn’t already guess from context clues in previous posts discussing my unexplained issues in elementary school, I have Asperger’s. Very mild now, after so many years of knowing how to pass for “normal,” but my brain is still wired differently. You can get bent if you think I’m damaged, need a “cure,” or should’ve been institutionalised like at least one kiddy shrink recommended to my parents in the mid-Eighties. One of the hardest things in my life was growing up with an ASD before it had a name, deprived of the resources and understanding I would’ve had if I’d been born 15-20 years later.

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What’s Up Wednesday

AlienStars

It’s been awhile since I did a WUW post, since I was busy with the April A to Z Challenge.

What I’m Reading

After watching the most chilling scenes from War and Remembrance on YouTube, I was inspired to go back to Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War, the book which precedes War and Remembrance. Luckily, I found both of them in one of my unpacked book crates still waiting for another bookshelf. I got The Winds of War for only a buck at Mystery Train Records in Amherst, but didn’t get that far into it when I’d started reading it before. I’m pretty sure I began it around the time of my accident, and so had more important priorities afterwards, besides not even being able to go upstairs for a few months.

This is the kind of historical I’m used to reading, the kind which inspired my own writing. For me, a real historical spans many years, has an ensemble cast, has a wide, sweeping arc and trajectory, and is nice and meaty. I can only imagine the horrified remarks Mr. Wouk (may he live and be well) would get were he starting to write today. “I cringed at your word count!” “Watch that word count!” “There’s no one main character!” “Too much telling!” “Too much backstory in the opening chapters!”

What I’m Writing

I finally bit the bullet and rewrote the opening pages of Little Ragdoll, along with changing the chapter title. It reads so much better now, without all that explanatory backstory clogging up and slowing down the story. I also rewrote or reworked a number of other pieces of the chapter, and now the dialogue sounds so much more natural and realistic. I also moved something that had been dialogue from Chapter 5 into a narrative passage in Chapter 1.

I had enough of going through Little Ragdoll, since barely anything was left to edit or change, so I went back to my WIP for a little while. Now up to somewhat over 603,000 words, and Chapter 78. I changed the name from “Journey to England” to “The Strangling Angel and the White Plague.” It’s shaped up to be more about Darya, Oliivia, and their new friends Halina and Maja than my soldiers going to England in preparation for D-Day next year.

I was nice to the girls and took them out of Oswiecim to a Polish farm taken over by the SS but still managed by a Polish family. Maja, sick with diphtheria (which ran rampant in 1943 Europe), and Darya, sick with TB, are taken to safety inside, and Oliivia and Halina will be chosen as indoor servants. Darya’s going to realise she’s not conceiving after her marriage in Part IV, due to something that happened in the camps, and I finally hit upon TB spreading to the pelvic organs and leaving scar tissue. It’s a big cause of female infertility in the developing world.

Then I went back to a final polishing of Jakob’s story, which is set to release Friday. The majority of my edits were in reflecting the fact that Dutch women are historically Lucy Stoners (i.e., retain their birth surnames after marriage). No more references to a couple as “the Names,” or referring to Luisa and Gusta with their husbands’ names. A woman changing her surname upon marriage is largely a convention of the English-speaking world, and fairly recent at that.

What Inspires Me

In April, I was extremely proud to help with getting Chili’s to drop its planned fundraiser with the vaccine-denialist, pro-Andrew Wakefield group National Autism Association. The pro-science crowd really rallied together and sent a loud and clear, well-argued position. I also recently took part in a Twitter chat with the hashtag #CDCvax, and was again very pleased and proud to see so many pro-science voices and great rebuttals of all the vaccine-denialist, autism-hating nonsense. The sun is hopefully setting on the vaccine-denialist, autism-hating cult.

These people have brought back measles, mumps, whooping cough, and now even diphtheria, aka The Strangling Angel. They bully and name-call, and make themselves look completely out of touch with reality. They ask the same stock questions over and over, ignoring the answers because they contradict their POV. They use such hateful language to talk about their own children. They invalidate the existence, experience, and feelings of adults with ASDs. They think deadly diseases are no big deal. They have zero understanding of basic science and history.

And for the record, I view Asperger’s as a beautiful gift and blessing from God. I really believe I have that to thank for my writing talent from such a young age, my prolific memory, my incredible intelligence, and my interest in things like silent film, classic rock and pop, world languages and religions, all things Russian, and history. My brain was wired this way before birth, and it’s not damage, a defect, or a curse.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

My paternal grandma passed away on 24 April, at age 86. Now I only have one set of grandparents left. It’s kind of hard to get used to the fact that you’re running out of grandparents, and that someone you were always close to isn’t in the material world anymore. I wish she could’ve lived to see me finally become a published writer. As time goes on, I have to seriously consider the fact that any children I might manage to have could have no living great-grandparents. I was lucky enough to share my lifetime with five, though I only really have memories of two, my mother’s father’s parents.

Can You Handle the Truth? and What’s Up Wednesday

18 Truths

In order to mark the coming release of her second book, 18 Truths, Jamie Ayres is holding a blogfest centred on the classic Two Truths and a Lie game. There are 18 fantabulous prizes up for grabs.

See if you can guess my lie.

I’m allergic to cockroaches.

My estimated due date was one day after a tragic event in the history of my favourite band (The Who).

I know how to play the dulcian, a late Medieval/early Renaissance instrument that’s like a more melancholy bassoon.

WUW Winter

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly hop/meme with four simple headings. Anyone can write a post and add the link to Jaime’s blog.

What I’m Writing

I’ve gotten to about 575,ooo words in my WIP, Chapter 74, “Novomira Does It All.” Chapter 73, “Inga in America,” is the longest chapter of Part III so far, at a bit over 11,000 words. Chapter 74 will include the birth of Feliks, the second grandchild for Lyuba, Ivan, Eliisabet, and Aleksey, as well as Ivan’s first blood grandchild. Novomira is committed to finishing her senior year at Barnard instead of dropping out and coming home with the baby. She wants to set a good example to her younger sister Nina, a Barnard freshwoman. Since she’s been living with Vera, she’s lucky enough to have a wetnurse during the day, as Vera just had her second child in November 1941.

It’s safe to say that at this point, I’ve given up the idea of capping it in at 600K. If it tops 700K, I’ll eat my hat. I think the safest bet is to publish it in four volumes, since each Part reads like its own story, with a focus on different characters and storylines.

Part I focuses on Lyuba’s difficult seventh pregnancy, the love story of Vera and Vsevolod, and the reunion of Nadezhda and Pavel after 12 years apart. Part II is focused on Tatyana’s rejection of Ivan while she lives with Boris in Harlem, while the Soviet characters struggle to survive the Great Terror and escape to America and Iran. Part III focuses on World War II, and Part IV will be about the aftermath of the war on everyone’s lives. In the Epilogue, “Back to an Ordinary World,” Lyuba and Ivan have a renewal ceremony on their 25th anniversary, on the eve of their finally heading off to university.

What I’m Reading

Sadly, not too much.

What Inspires Me

I was thinking about how it must be a sign of maturity that I’ve become more skeptical and less crunchy as I’ve gotten older. There are things I immediately, unquestioningly accepted as a teen and in my twenties that I’d never accept so readily these days. I’d want to see confirmation from other sources, and not just believe some sensationalistic, fear-mongering tv show or one-sided, crunchier than thou website.

Mind you, there are still things I believe in and will staunchly defend, such as Astrology, reincarnation, life after death, and homebirth. I can’t dismiss or be skeptical about everything. Being skeptical for the sake of skepticism is just as bad uncritically believing everything. Not all skeptics are militant atheists who deride anything not recognised by modern scientists. Some things will never have a scientific explanation, and don’t pretend to be scientific. The evidence comes from other avenues.

What Else I’m Up To

I started the new onomastics blog I’ve been thinking about for awhile. It’s called Onomastics Outside the Box, and will focus on classical eccentric, classical unusual, and international names. I initially had it in the Mac OS Classic theme, but it didn’t really match the theme.  I’m much happier with the My Life theme I replaced it with, and the blue colour scheme.

I also had a really awesome surprise last week. It didn’t dawn on me till I was looking through my virtual cemetery for children and young people at Find A Grave that one of my photos was used for a recent pro-vaccination meme. What an amazing, awesome coincidence. I’d seen the first drafts of the meme, but didn’t realise right away that that was one of my graves. It’s a grave of 12 children in the same family in St. Vincent’s Cemetery in Latrobe, PA. The 1884 group probably were victims of the diphtheria epidemic that hit the state that year. The final meme says “Childhood Before Vaccines.”

DSC05971

And yes, I know this still won’t convince the vaccine-denialist cult. They’ll continue giggling and patting themselves on the back, convinced they know more than the entire scientific community because of garbage on Natural “News,” Tenpenny, and Mercola. Their special little snowflakes will easily survive diphtheria, polio, measles, whooping cough, and flu with lemon juice, breastmilk, Vitamin C, kale smoothies, echinacea, and expensive water (I mean, homeopathy). They’ll continue to swear by a discredited fraud and former Playboy bunny. I refuse to let this cult take us back to the days when a gravestone like this was common, when childhood mortality was an accepted fact of life and parents expected to lose some of their kids.

Disease and historical fiction, Part I

(Part I of this series mainly addresses the modern-day vaccine-denialist cult. Later installments will go over a number of the diseases which would’ve been no strangers to the characters in a historical. I just had to get this off my chest here first, after all the rants I wrote against this cult at my old Angelfire site.)

Since I always mostly read older or historical books, and watched mostly classic or historical films, I’ve always been aware of how frightening the childhood diseases of the not-too-distant past were (and continue to be in Third World countries). Unlike the modern-day vaccine-denialist cult, I understand how contagious these diseases are, how they can kill, maim, and cause much suffering. They weren’t Magickally dying out anyway, coincidentally right at the exact same time the vaccine for each was introduced. Running water, better sanitation, and improved medicines only helped to improve survival rates in the 20th century, NOT incidence rates. Correlation does not freaking prove causation. We only see higher rates of diabetes, food allergies, autism, and ADHD now because of greater awareness, broadening diagnostic criteria, and no longer institutionalising such children or hiding them away at home in shame.

Real research does not entail looking at confirmation-bias, conspiracy theory, non-scholarly, one-sided, propagandistic articles from notoriously dangerous pseudoscience sites like whale.to, Mercola, Tenpenny, Sears, Natural “News,” your chiroquacktor’s webpage, or VINE. Real research is not about working backwards from a set in stone belief and ignoring or mocking everything that doesn’t back up your rigid POV. Real research includes peer-reviewed, unbiased scholarly journals, not random blogs and YouTube videos. You do not know more than the entire scientific community because you spent some time Googling.

Vaccines do not freaking cause autism, but even if they somehow did and Andy Fakefield hadn’t been exposed as an unethical liar and stripped off the UK Medical Register, an autistic child is much better than one who died of measles, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, mumps, chickenpox, or tetanus. How dare you claim there are no autistic adults and call your own children cursed, damaged, soulless, defective, not real people!

Autism spectrum disorders are simply a neurobiological difference, not a deviation from the perfect “norm” you were expecting. Autism has always existed, only had different names in the past, and was more hidden from the public view, like mental illness and Down’s Syndrome. Today we have better diagnostic criteria, can identify the signs earlier, and include a range of conditions on a spectrum. Same goes for food allergies, diabetes, ADHD, asthma, whatever else these zealots falsely blame on vaccines.

Parents in the old days lined up around the block for diphtheria toxin-antitoxin, polio vaccines, whooping cough vaccines, measles vaccines, etc. They knew firsthand how awful the diseases are, and wanted so badly to save their children from needlessly suffering and/or dying. They trusted medical authorities and didn’t smirk about how they knew more than experienced toxicologists, immunologists, bacteriologists, virologists, specialists in infectious diseases, pediatricians, biologists, and medical doctors. They had seen children suffering and dying.

Parents 50, 100, 300, 500 years ago didn’t excitedly throw diphtheria parties, giggle about how awesome it is to have “natural immunity,” ignore everything doctors told them in favour of homeopathic woo and dangerous quackery like chelation and bleach enemas, declare how happy they were to have deliberately gotten their kids sick with whooping cough, dismiss measles as a minor rash that never kills, shrug off polio as not dangerous and no big deal, or put more stock in extremely rare vaccine reactions than the truly real risk of dying from a disease.

Diseases which were all but eradicated in the West, like measles, mumps, and whooping cough, have been making frightening comebacks due to the breakdown in herd immunity and large pockets of unvaccinated people. Vaccines do not “shed.” The people spreading these diseases are unvaccinated. They infect people too young to be vaccinated, or unable to be vaccinated due to legitimate medical issues. Vaccinated children are healthier than unvaccinated children.

No child “deserves” to die because s/he was premature, formula-fed, suffering a medical condition, or not the child of crunchier than thou hippies living in a yurt, “unschooling” their kids, eating only raw organic food, and relying on homeopathic garbage like coffee enemas, colloidal silver, and baking soda. You are morally bankrupt if you defend child murderers by blaming Shaken Baby Syndrome on vaccines.

There’s never been a single doubt in my mind that vaccines have saved untold lives all around the world since their introduction, that they’re extremely safe and effective. I never believed Andy Fraudfield’s study for one blessèd moment, since I always knew autism is something one is born with. Again, correlation does not prove causation. People with Autism Spectrum Disorders are not damaged, cursed, soulless, or less than real people. I dare these people to tell me to my face that I, someone on the highest-functioning, mildest end of the spectrum and undiagnosed for 29 years due to my specific condition essentially not having a name when I was growing up, am damaged, diseased, in need of a “cure,” not equal to someone with a neurotypical brain.

If my regular readers couldn’t already guess from context clues in previous posts discussing my unexplained issues in elementary school, I have Asperger’s. Very mild now, after so many years of knowing how to pass for “normal,” but my brain is still wired differently. You can get bent if you think I’m damaged, need a “cure,” or should’ve been institutionalised like at least one kiddy shrink recommended to my parents in the mid-Eighties. One of the hardest things in my life was growing up with an ASD before it had a name, deprived of the resources and understanding I would’ve had if I’d been born 15-20 years later.