Tuesday, February 5, 2008

JB: It's you

It is typically my approach to stay out of some of the 'fights' in the autism community. Every now and then I come across something that really irks me. Sometimes, as in today's case, I can't specifically identify what it is about what I've read or heard that is so irritating.
Allow me to refer you to the most recent post by J.B. Handley over at Age of Autism. In it, J.B. compares his own sanity (figuratively) to Nancy Minshew, Ph.D., while also comparing their scientific acumen.

J.B. begins by offering up the fact that he has read an entire presentation by Dr. Minshew - over 100 pages! Of course, if one were to look at the document he is referring to, one would notice that the first 68 pages are Powerpoint slides. Way to go, J.B.! That's some serious reading!

J.B. goes on to say, "You see, after reading many of the things you have written and said, I find myself in a real funk, a state of angst and confusion." Well, that should be a familiar feeling for Mr. Handley in light of the colossal error he made in telling every news and print media outlet a few years ago that "There is no such thing as Autism. Autism is a misidagnosis for Mercury poisoning!" He even took out a full-page newspaper ad to tout this position. So how did he resolve that last bout of "angst and confusion" when it became painfully obvious to him that he was wrong and that he had made an utter jackass out of himself? When he reached a point where not even his own cognitive dissonance could prevent him from seeing the errors in his beliefs? Easy, he changed his story and never looked back.

J.B. goes on to say, "I had never heard of you until last week when, for reasons I can’t pretend to understand, your name appeared in a number of articles discussing Eli Stone and the relationship between vaccines and autism." And this is most interesting since just a few sentences prior to this line, he said, "My son was diagnosed with autism about 3 years ago. Since that time, I have devoted myself to reading every printed page of science I have been able to find on autism. I’ve interviewed or seen dozens of different “experts” (as you are often referred to in the press), and my wife and I have worked diligently to do everything we can to help our son."
Here, I think I can be of some help to J.B. You see, anyone can quickly hop on over to PubMed and punch in a quick search that includes "Minshew" and "Autism". Voila! 83 entries appear. That's a lot of entries! Looks like they range from topics such as sensorimotor control to adaptive behavior. Now, for the purpose of contrast, let's type in "Handley" and "Autism". One result! Oh, wait. That's a different Handley. Oh, well.

So, let me get this straight - J.B. Handley has read every printed page of science he has been able to find on autism, but has never used PubMed at all (much less had anything published there)? I'm stunned! So, if that's the case, then he has completely missed (let's see, I'm just typing in "autism" now) 11,734 entries into the scientific record! I think we've estabished that J.B. Handley has a few gaps in his knowledge on the subject of autism!

This leads an inquiring mind to ask, why would an illustrious Autism Expert such as J.B. Handley simply 'overlook' so much scientific information on such an important topic? Well, later in his post he conveniently answers that question for us: "I really didn’t pay much attention to these press mentions of you last week because I’ve grown pretty insensitive to the propaganda effort (as I perceive it) continually underway to defend the national immunization program. " Ah, there we have it. Anything that does not jibe with his worldview that the vaccination program is actually a grand conspiracy is to be ignored. Boy, that certainly limits your options when it comes to information sources. No wonder he is not using PubMed - it is a government-run database. Forget also the CDC, the FDA, anything related to the government or any pharmaceutical company. None of it is to be trusted. Because J.B. knows the truth, and is just waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

Next, of course, J.B. goes through some of the typical talking points one might expect to hear from the autism-is-mercury-poisoining-camp (Can we still call it that? Or should we call it "some-undetermined-toxic-load-is-autism-but-don't-be-offended-that-I-am-calling-you-or-your-kid-toxic-camp".) They go something like "experts'" ... "vaccines" ... "Thimerosal" ... "banned" ... "flu shot" ... "crazy" ... you get the picture.

J.B., though, always the gentleman, took the time to inform Dr. Minshew that he will be using her email - an email exchanged with a parent who had requested help of Dr. Minshew and was subsequently turned over to J.B. for the purpose of using it to attack her - the day prior to posting this fine article. When she responded explaining that her email was for private use, his gentlemanly response was, and I quote:

From: J.B. Handley Sent: Monday, February 04, 2008 11:54 AMTo: Nancy
MinshewSubject: Re: Nancy & Me: Who's crazy

Says who?
And, tough shit.

J.B. Handley

Just in case you were wondering why I am taking the time to criticize J.B. Handley's post, that last line might convince you. Unless, of course you are one of J.B.'s adulating fan, who left comments to the post that say things like:
-"OK, I just have to say that I almost shot some of the water I was drinking out of my nose laughing when I read JB's final email..."
-"You Go, JB....I have a visual of a very angry Dr. Minshew with smoke coming out of her nose and ears after reading your email. "
-"I'm in awe of your ability to combine common sense with science." That's right - AWE!
-"JB, WAY TO GO!!! Great letter! One of my favorite parts was in the newspaper article where it was stated that Dr. Minshew was taking off her gloves. HA! She doesn't realize who she just climbed into the ring with, now does she?"

What a lovely group of people, those AOA'ers!

So, to answer J.B.'s question -indeed the tongue-in-cheek (which comes across as sneering wise-ass) topic of the post, "This is my world, Dr. Minshew, it seems clear as day. It’s so different from yours, I really, really need to know: which one of us is crazy?"

It's you, J.B. It's you.


Ms. Clark said...

Oh yeah. Easy call. It's JB Handley whose crazy, besides being a nouveau riche boob, (and not very well read on autism obviously), Minshew and Just are a couple of heavy hitters in autism research and have been for years.

leila said...

JB is beyond crazy, rude, awful. Even if I believed in the vaccine causation theory, there was no way I'd be a fan of that guy.

So do Blaxill and Olmsted still think the wackosphere is on the other side?

Club 166 said...

That last e-mail says it all.

What a class act.


Sharon said...

How unbelievably rude! And he gets commended for that behaviour?!
(I wonder if there's a treatment for such obvious impairment in socialisation.)

Judith said...

It's totally cool that people have differences of opinion. That's life. But the bitterness and hostility ... geez! They get us absolutely nowhere. :(

It's sad.

Sullivan said...

It isn't just that Minshew has a lot of papers. She has a lot of very highly cited papers. Lots.

Add to that the NIH "Autism Center of Excellence" that she is head of, announced just a few months ago.

Saying "I've never heard of you" looks like he was just "playing to the crowd". It's a statement for his readers, not Dr. Minshew.

Just like the "I sent this to her a day ahead of time as a courtesy" looks like he was just trolling for more material to post.

It's embarassing that this man tries to represent himself as some sort of leader within the autism community.

isles said...

The people who cheer Handley on are pathetic. (Never mind Handley himself - that goes without saying.)

Cackling from the sidelines as he heckles someone who has spent her career helping autistic children - nice, really nice.

Regan said...

Dr. Minshew's credentials and standing in autism research speak for themselves and, I guess in their own way, so do JB Handley's.

It was at least ironic on the heels of Mark Blaxil's pontificating on "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything.", although I doubt if Mr. Blaxill is unfamiliar with JB Handley's usual literary style--which usually starts out with this windy pseudo inquiring and finishes with up with a "Yah, boo, sucks". And then the hectoring peanut gallery.

It's hard to choose between wanting to give him a time out or just being embarrassed for him. As Joe said, what a class act.