[2/12/2012: edited to add: One of my readers suggested that I add the following disclosure, with which I agree. Mr. Crosby and my daughter are four days apart in age. My daughter identifies as neurodiverse, as a well-remdiated dyslexic. Her life experiences deeply inform how I veiw Mr. Crosby's writings.]
In the 17 posts to Age of Autism in 2009, Jake Crosby broadens a number of themes and introduces a new element, the "6,000 degrees of separation" ploy to discredit those he disagrees with.
- Autism is too caused by vaccines, specifically the ingredient thimerosal
- Any "health authority" who does not condemn vaccines is corrupt
- Autism is loathsome and should be prevented and/or cured
- The neurodiversity movement and the autistic-self-advocacy movement are despicable and should be condemned
- Any disagreement with the proceding statements must be caused by corruption or undue influence (usually wielded by the pharmaceutical / vaccine industry), which can be proven by association.
List of Posts
- January 14, 2009 Discovering I Was Toxic http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/01/discovering-i-was-toxic.html#more. I found this to be the most poignant of Crosby's writings. In this post, Crosby recounts his belief that he was made autistic by a preservative formerly used in vaccines, thimerosal, and the "treatments" his mother subjected him to. He also recounts his shame about being autistic, and expresses his anger at the "health authorities" who "completely betrayed the public trust" -- that is, Crosby's belief that vaccines are "toxic".
- February 19, 2009 History Suggests HHS Candidate Not Unbiased on Thimerosal-Vaccine Issue http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/02/history-suggests-hhs-candidate-not-unbiased-on-thimerosal-vaccine-issue.html. This post makes an unsourced, negative assertion about Kathleen Sibelius's position on vaccine safety: "As early as 2003, her staff has ignored warnings of thimerosal dangers, relying on federal and corporate information".
- March 3, 2009 The Age of Neurodiversity http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/03/the-age-of-neurodiversity.html. In this post, Crosby is responding to a presentation on the Best Resources for Attainment and Intervention re Neurodiversity in Higher Education (BRAIN-HE), Neurodiversity in higher education: Insights from qualitative research by the BRAINHE project.". I am afraid Crosby misread, or mis-represented, the contents of the presentation. Joseph (himself autistic) at Natural Variation goes into Crosby's errors in some detail at AoA's Token Aspie Reacts to BRAINHE Study With Error-Filled Article, and goes on with All Autistics Who Oppose Neurodiversity are High Functioning and Nevertheless, There Are Differences Between Autistics Who Approve of and Disapprove of Neurodiversity
- March 18, 2009 A Glimpse Inside Asperger's Syndrome http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/03/a-glimpse-inside-aspergers-syndrome.html. Another poignant post, in which Crosby discusses how some of the executive functioning deficits intrinsic to autism hinder his academic success. But he robs the poignancy by setting up "neurodiversity" as a giant straw man in the closing paragraphs. Crosby seems to have isolated himself from autistic peers -- he might have learned some tools and work-arounds for the problems he described. Here, some other autistic college students comment on Crosby's attitude, and discuss some of the ways they have learned to compensate.
- May 8, 2009 An Open Letter to Newsweek Magazine on Possible Neurodiversity Coverage http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/05/an-open-letter-to-newsweek-magazine-on-possible-neurodiversity-coverage.html Background: "Sullivan", writing at LeftBrain/RightBrain, responded with: "... prior to the publication of the Newsweek article, Stephen Shore leaked the information.... Jake Crosby at the Age of Autism decided to blog his own misconceptions about it.... Mr. Crosby’s blog piece had a fairly simple theme: “don’t publish the Ari Ne’eman article; interview me instead”. Or, failing that, “Give me equal time”. We all knew (and I assume Mr. Crosby is intelligent enough to know as well) that his was an empty commentary: the article was already in press." (I highly recommend that you read the whole LeftBrainRightBrain piece.) While Crosbydefines neurodiversity in such a way that he can deplore it, this is another of Crosby's essays that I find poignant, particularly the depth of Crosby's dislike for how his mind works.
- June 6, 2009 Newsweek’s Newspeak: Pharma’s Weapon Against Oprah http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/06/newsweeks-newspeak-pharmas-weapon-against-oprah.html. This is an attack on Newsweek, the magazine itself. The vehicle is the issue in which Newsweek takes issue with Oprah Winfrey's promotion of pseudoscience and outright quackery, which Crosby defends. I came away with the feeling that the real issue was Crosby was miffed that Newsweek didn't give Crosby equal billing with Ne'eman.
- June 19, 2009 Autism, Cancer and AIDS http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/06/autism-cancer-and-aids.html. This was a particularly ill-researched, ill-sourced, innuendo-riddled post, in which Mr. Crosby accuses Maurice Hilleman of "importing AIDS" , via monkeys Hilleman had imported from Africa for vaccine research. The facts behind the video Crosby cited was debunked (and the video called "irresponsible") in 2007, by Brandon Keim at Wired. Why would Crosby repeat such a false and baseless accusation? Because it gives Crosby a hook with which to slur another of the scientists that Crosby reviles, Paul Offit MD. Turning from Offit, Crosby promotes the OPV-AIDS hypothesis as fact, even though that hypothesis had been soundly debunked and refuted five whole years before Crosby posted this article. The whole article is a smear attack on a deceased public health hero, Maurice Hilleman, and by extension, a living public health hero, Paul Offit. Mr. Crosby wrote this at (what I believe, based on his graduation date) the end of his sophomore year at Brandeis University. The word "sophomoric" may apply.
- July 13, 2009 Autism, Asperger's: Who is Truly Disabled? http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/07/who-is-truly-disabled.html This post was prompted by Roger Kulp's letter to Age of Autism. Mr. Kulp is an autistic adult with a complex, and incompletely treated, medical history. In this post, Crosby elaborates one of his enduring themes: the argument against the neurodiversity straw man. In this post, it takes the form that neurodiversity advocates (NDs, in Crosby's usage) want to "prevent people on the spectrum from getting help." And yet -- this is another of Crosby's postings that I find poignant. Remember, my daughter is almost exactly the same age as Crosby. At the time he published the post, he wasn't yet 21, and didn't (at least in writing) appear to have folk --peers and adults--around him who were supportive.
- July 23, 2009 Why Asperger Syndrome is a Legal Disability http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/07/why-asperger-syndrome-is-a-legal-disability.html In this essay, Mr. Crosby is wrestling with the meaning of "disability" as it pertains to an "invisible" disability such as autism, especially for folk like himself who can "pass" as neurotypical.For me, it is another poignant post, in that Mr. Crosby seems not to have any broader connection to the disability-rights movement as a whole,or had never even been introduced to the social model of disablity. Read, for example, another autistic adult's response to this essay, Cat in a Dog's World: Asperger's is a Disability .
- August 8, 2009 Jake Crosby Reviews Fox Searchlight's "Adam" Movie with Asperger's http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/08/jake-crosby-reviews-fox-searchlights-adam-movie-with-aspergers.html Another, to me, poignant Crosby post, as he wrote: "The movie “Adam” was billed as a romantic comedy, but to a person with Asperger Syndrome, it might be more of a suspense drama.".
- August 15, 2009 First Michael Savage, then Denis Leary, now Rex Reed http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/08/first-michael-savage-then-denis-leary-now-rex-reed.html. LeftBrain/RightBrain agreed, with links to other autistic bloggers' responses to Mr. Reed's hurtful, inaccurate words. http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/08/19/rex-reed-is-just-plain-ignorant/
- September 22, 2009 “Science”Blogs: Seed Media’s Aggressive WeedPart I: Fertilizer From Pharma http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/09/scienceblogs-seed-medias-aggressive-weed.html. This, and the subsequent of Crosby's posts, takes some scene-setting. Seed Media's Science Blogs conglomerated a number of previously self-hosted science blogs. The benefit to the individual bloggers was larger audiences; the benefit to Seed was revenue from embedded advertisements (sometimes embarrassingly inapposite). Some of the bloggers wrote under their real names (cf PZ Myers); others used, for professional reasons, previously-established pseudonyms (cf Orac). Of those blogs that addressed immunization issues, all were deeply pro-vaccination, rejecting the failed theory that vaccines were somehow causal in autism. If my memory serves correctly, Orac's Respectful Insolence was (and is) the most vocal of the pro-vaccination blogs. On April 2009, Orac published The mindset of an antivaccinationist revealed, courtesy of Jake Crosby of The Age of Autism blog. This seems to have been what prompted Crosby to dig into Seed Media. In this essay, he attacks Adam Bly for being unqualified to run a science media empire and for monetizing science reporting; the Seed Media collective for rejecting the "vaccines cause autism" hypothesis, ("the site full of bloggers who relentlessly defend mercury in vaccines and the MMR - even if it means defending sham studies, defending the CDC when it broke the law at Simpsonwood, destroyed data, lied, and did not disclose conflicts of interest "), and Orac for...well, it's hard to say exactly, but mostly for having the temerity to reject Crosby's world view. Along the way, Crosby begins to develop his theme of tenuous relationships among entities "proving" that the pharma industry controls what is written at the Science Blogging collective.
- September 23, 2009 Part II Seed Media's "Science"Blogs: A 180 Degree Shift in Reporting http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/09/part-ii-seed-medias-scienceblogs-a-180-degree-shift-in-reporting.html. In this essay, Crosby presumes his previous essay had established that Seed Media and its science blogging collective are in fact, "tied to the drug industry". He goes on to ask if Seed Media (the dead-tree magazine and the science blogging collective) had ever represented the "vaccines cause autism" issue in a way that Crosby would find acceptable. A short bit of clarification is needed for those new to the anti-vaccine, "autism is vaccine injury" ideology. The notion that vaccines cause autism had its origins in the late 1990s, and achieved national prominence in the early 2000s. The idea that thimerosal might have something to do with autism was a reasonable and testable hypothesis. One would expect a science magazine to report on this hypothesis in the early 2000s, and Seed Magazine did so, with an article So research was done. By 2001, or at, by the latest, 2005 the evidence was clear: there is no reason to think that thimerosal exposure via vaccines is in any way causal in autism. Mr. Crosby, in this essay, advances the view that as of September 2009, the entire collective of science bloggers should still have had entertained the idea that somehow, vaccines are dangerous, specifically referring to autism. Because Seed Media Science bloggers instead regarded the issue as closed is evidence of "censorship" and that, somehow, Big Pharma controls the opinions and blogging output of all the contributors. I will leave you to decide if Mr. Crosby's opinions are reasonable. You may wish to read Orac's response to Crosby's first article
- November 1, 2009 Autism Awareness Week at Brandeis http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/11/autism-awareness-week-at-brandeis.html In this essay, Mr. Crosby reports on planning a multi-day conference at his university.
- November 8, 2009 Brandeis U. Autism Awareness Week Update: Current Schedule http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/11/brandeis-u-autism-awareness-week-update-current-schedule.html The finalized schedule.
- December 18, 2009 Keeping Autism Neurodiversity Out of the White House http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/12/keeping-autism-neurodiversity-out-of-the-white-house.html. This post starts out with a giant strawman, Crosby's distortion of neurodiversity (here and here for more accurate representations, and keeps going. What raised Mr. Crosby's ire? Ari Ne'eman's nomination to the National Council on Disability -- the first autistic so nominated. Crosby's article has a certain ring of sour grapes about it -- Ne'eman is a year younger than Crosby, but Ne'eman had by then achieved much more national prominence than Crosby, mostly for Ne'eman's achievements in founding and leading the Autism Self-Advocacy Network and for scholarly publications. Crosby stooped so low as to insinuate that Ne'eman's mother had political connections, which allowed her to engineer the nomination. In doing so, Crosby misrepresented Mrs. Ne'eman's employment. Crosby closes by claiming Ne'eman is not representative of the autism community or adult autistics. Crosby implied that the "real" autism community endorsed the "autism is vaccine injury" claim, and denied and abhored Ne'eman's claim that autistics are not inarticulate wretches crying out in hopes of a cure to return us to normalcy. We are human beings, individuals in our own right. We are who we are, not in spite of being autistic but in part because of it.". In other words, in Crosby's view, "real" autistics must be wretched sufferers, seeking a cure. An indication of how popular this view is among the autism community is that a mere 782 people signed the online petition to oppose Ne'eman's nomination.
- December 22, 2009 Autism Awareness Week at Brandeis: A Great Success! http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/12/autism-awareness-week-at-brandeis-a-great-success.html The 2009 Autism Week committee did a remarkable job of putting together a multi-day, multi-speaker event. While I disagree with many of Mr. Crosby's views, I was then impressed and remain impressed by what the committee accomplished.
- Jacob Lawrence Crosby: A Catalog Raisonné (of sorts), 2008 - 2013 Part 1 Introduction and Early Life
- Jacob Lawrence Crosby: A Catalog Raisonné (of sorts), 2008 - 2013 Part 2 Works 2009
- Jacob Lawrence Crosby: A Catalog Raisonne (of sorts), 2008 - 2013 Part 3 Works 2010
- Jacob Lawrence Crosby: A Catalog Raisonne (of sorts), 2008 - 2013 Part 4 Works 2011
- Jacob Lawrence Crosby: A Catalog Raisonne (of sorts), 2008 - 2013 Part 5 Works 2012
- Jacob Lawrence Crosby: A Catalog Raisonne (of sorts), 2008 - 2013 Part 6 Works 2013
- Jacob Lawrence Crosby: A Catalog Raisonne (of sorts), 2008 - 2013 Part 7 Appendices
Autism and anti-vaccination events of note in 2008 and 2009
- June 2008 "Green our vaccines" march lead by Jenny McCarthy and her then-boyfriend, Jim Carrey. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/jenny-mccarthy-jim-carrey-and-green-our-vaccines-anti-vaccine-not-pro-safe-vaccine/
- May 26 2008, Ken Reibel is expelled from the AutismOne conference for being "negative". http://autism-news-beat.com/archives/62
- September 18, 2008: Paul Offit publishes Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure
- February 8, 2009 Brian Deer published "MMR doctor fixed data on autism" http://briandeer.com/solved/st-fixed-data.htm
- Stanford Medicine Magazine publishes a special issue on immunization http://stanmed.stanford.edu/2009spring/index.html
- May 22, 2009 Chicago Tribune publishes Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan's multi-part story on quackery in autism treatment http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-autism-doctor-eisenstein-may22,0,3826791.story
- July 6, 2009: Andrew Wakefield gets crosswise with The Times of London http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/07/07/brian-deer-talks-back-to-andrew-wakefield/
- July 7, 2009: Eric London resigns from Autism Speaks http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/07/07/eric-london-resigns-from-autism-speaks/
- July 15, 2009: FBI, IRS shuts down an autism clinic http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/07/16/fbi-and-irs-shut-quack-clinics/
- July 29, 2009: Hazelhurst petition to the Autism Omnibus Proceedings denied http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/07/29/autism-omnibus-hazelhurst-appeal-denied/
- August 11, 2009: Cedillo appeal to the Autism Omnibus Proceedings denied http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/08/11/autism-omnibus-cedillo-appeal-denied/
- August 12, 2009: Snyder appeal to the Autism Omnibus Proceedings denied http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/08/12/autism-omnibus-snyder-appeal-denied/
- August 30, 2009: Matt Lauer produces an hour-long show, "A Dose of Controversy" http://insidedateline.nbcnews.com/_news/2009/08/25/4374204-sunday-aug-30-a-dose-of-controversy
- September 22, 2009: The National Health Services releases a report that indicate about 1 in 100 adults in the UK have autism. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6219201/One-in-100-adults-have-autism-research.html
- September 22, 2009: Autism Speaks Debuts the "I Am Autism" fundraising video. A firestorm of controversy ensues. http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2009/09/i-am-autism-awareness-video-by-alfonso-cuar%C3%B3n-ransom-reprise.html.
- October 19, 2009: Wired Magazine publishes Amy Wallace's An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_waronscience/all/1
- November 1, Release of 2009 Prevalence of Parent-Reported Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children in the US, 2007 http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/124/5/1395.full, which estimates US autism prevalence as 1.1%
- November 2009: Age of Autism publishes the vile "Thanksgiving Nightmare" post http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/12/04/age-of-autism-pull-offensive-blog-post/
- November 23, 2009: the Chicago Tribune publishes Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan's and multi-part series on quackery in autism treatments, http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/chi-autism-science-nov23,0,240420.story .
- December 16, 2009: ASAN founder Ari Ne'eman nominated to the Council on Disability http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ari_Ne'eman