Autism Quackfest Hits the Media

It was bound to happen. And I’m glad to have done my part. I’ve been blogging since August about the questionable judgment of the SickKids Foundation for their support of rank pseudoscience at the upcoming AutismOne Conference, Changing the Course of Autism.

It’s now a national story in Canada. Tom Blackmore, of the National Post, weighs in today: Controversial autism conference got funds from Sick Kids

A branch of Toronto’s renowned Hospital for Sick Children is being criticized for funding an autism conference whose organizers champion the discredited belief that childhood immunization causes the neurological disorder.

The event – to start on Saturday at the University of Toronto medical sciences building – also includes presentations that some experts are calling unproven science, promoting such alternative treatments for autism as homeopathy and hyperbaric oxygen chambers.

Organized by the American group AutismOne and Austism Canada, the meeting has received $5,000 in funding from SickKids Foundation, the hospital’s fundraising wing.

Blogs designed to expose practitioners of dubious science have railed against the event for the past two months, questioning why a respected health-care institution would offer its support to a group that considers vaccination of children a health risk.

“The name of Sick Kids is worth more to them than the money: it is a stamp of legitimacy”

“Sick Kids hospital has some of the world’s most renowned autism researchers. I suspect most of them would not be thrilled by the fact that SickKids Foundation is supporting this conference.”

The full story is here.

As I blogged about this last week over at the Skeptic North blog, with content this dubious,  you’d expect science-based organizations to stay far, far away. Sadly, the SickKids Foundation, with their “neutral stance” towards pseudoscience, is a confirmed sponsor. And now they’re facing well-deserved scrutiny.

The Post also has a nice piece on the role that bloggers played: Blogs raise the alarm on autism conference. Skeptic North, Respectful Insolence, and Sandwalk are all mentioned. Science-Based Pharmacy isn’t mentioned…but that’s OK. I’m happy to see some well-deserved publicity for Skeptic North and its team of writers.  (The Post says I run the Skeptic North blog – that’s incorrect. To be clear, Steve Thoms is Skeptic North’s editor).

I’m pleased to see the media questioning the propagation and sponsorship of pseudoscience. As I blogged about earlier this week, the antivaccination rhetoric is peaking, with the arrival of the H1N1 vaccine. Why the SickKids Foundation would support anti-vaccination organizations, that will only lead to more sick kids, continues to escape me.

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3 thoughts on “Autism Quackfest Hits the Media

  1. Rob Tarzwell says:

    Unless the Foundation eats some serious crow on this one, they’ll never get a nickel of charitable support out of me, and I’ll loudly and longly condemn them from pillar to post.

    This was an irresponsible and injudicious use of their donated funds and considerable reputation.

    Shame!

    But well on you and the skep-crew for holding their feet to the fire.

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