Dembski is buying the anti-vax arguments

Quoting Dembski:

My own sense is that vaccines pulled the trigger in our son John’s case. At the very least, I would thus have liked to see Tribeca allow Vaxxed to be shown and its content to be freely discussed.

Somehow, I am not surprised.

37 Replies to “Dembski is buying the anti-vax arguments”

  1. Dave Carlson Dave Carlson
    Ignored
    says:

    Given the date of the post, could this be a prank?

  2. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Dave Carlson:
    Given the date of the post, could this be a prank?

    Given the context, it doesn’t seem likely.

    My MA is in special education. Even in 1972, people in the field regarded autism and schizophrenia as spectrum traits with a high genetic component.

    There’s hardly anything more stressful than mental illness in a child. So I don’t think badly of parents who grasp at flimsy correlations. It’s tough to accept cold statistics when your life seems ruined.

  3. Joe Felsenstein Joe Felsenstein
    Ignored
    says:

    If it is not a prank, I would not attack the Dembskis over this. Anyone dealing with a severely autistic child deserves considerable sympathy, and if they embrace discredited arguments in a desperate attempt to find cures or explanations, that is understandable. Of course it does not give credence to quack cures or fake explanations.

  4. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    According to wikipedia:

    Dembski and Jana have one daughter and two sons. One of his sons has autism and Dembski has attributed some of his son’s problems to vaccines.[11]

    The reference is a podcast in a christian radio from 2010

    http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/9-Jan-2010-Bill-Dembski-Norman-Hansen-on-Natural-Evil

    Dembski once took his family to a meeting conducted by Todd Bentley, a faith healer, in hopes of receiving a “miraculous healing” for his son, who is autistic.[95][96] In an article for the Baptist Press he recalled disappointment with the nature of the meeting and with the prevention of his son and other attendees from joining those in wheelchairs who were selected to receive prayer. He then concluded, “Minimal time was given to healing, though plenty was devoted to assaulting our senses with blaring insipid music and even to Bentley promoting and selling his own products (books and CDs).” He wrote that he did not regret the trip and called it an “education,” which showed “how easily religion can be abused, in this case to exploit our family.

    I’m sorry for him, but the guy is a crackpot

  5. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz: He wrote that he did not regret the trip and called it an “education,” which showed “how easily religion can be abused, in this case to exploit our family.

    Not the thinking style of a crackpot. I don’t see any need to put Dembski in a bucket. He has ideas that are wrong, but I don’t see him as a crackpot or crank. He struggles against the nuttier aspects of creationism, and his career suffers as a result.

  6. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Joe Felsenstein: If it is not a prank, I would not attack the Dembskis over this. Anyone dealing with a severely autistic child deserves considerable sympathy, and if they embrace discredited arguments in a desperate attempt to find cures or explanations, that is understandable.

    I very much second this sentiment. Thanks Joe.

  7. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Joe Felsenstein: If it is not a prank, I would not attack the Dembskis over this.

    I agree. The point of the post was not to attack Dembski.

    However, I do think that creationists are poor at evaluating evidence.

    Life is full of unexpected events. And the theist is informally trained to “recognize” a positive coincidence as a message from his/her god. So a negative coincidence is up for grabs, to be attributed to evil spirits or to sinfulness or to those pesky Darwinists.

  8. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    I feel for Robert De Niro. He wanted to see Vaxxed get a hearing. But the pressure he faced for withdrawing the film must have been enormous. I saw a similar move a decade ago when the ID film The Privileged Planet was to be shown at the Smithsonian. The uproar against it was enormous.

    Oh yes, it’s persecution when pseudosciences that have been refuted ad nauseam don’t get to repeat the same BS yet again to more people in the hope of scoring points among the gullible.

    Why not astrology? Isn’t it orthodox enough for Dembski? Why not a faith healing film? Why shouldn’t one of those replace the anti-vax film? Does Dembski’s experience trump that?

    Somehow their selectivity isn’t guided by the evidence. Which isn’t surprising, since their cherished beliefs weren’t chosen according to the evidence.

    Glen Davidson

  9. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    Dave Carlson:
    Given the date of the post, could this be a prank?

    Isn’t every day April Fools for Dembski?

    Well, in a sense.

    Glen Davidson

  10. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka: Not the thinking style of a crackpot. I don’t see any need to put Dembski in a bucket. He has ideas that are wrong, but I don’t see him as a crackpot or crank. He struggles against the nuttier aspects of creationism, and his career suffers as a result.

    And he clings to the other nutty aspects of creationism.

    Gary Gaulin makes some good points at UD against how ID’s “case” is negative, rather than providing evidence for ID. So he struggles against some of the nuttier aspects of ID.

    Sadly, that does nothing to keep his ideas from being the nutty ideas of a crank.

    Glen Davidson

  11. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Joe Felsenstein:
    If it is not a prank, I would not attack the Dembskis over this.Anyone dealing with a severely autistic child deserves considerable sympathy, and if they embrace discredited arguments in a desperate attempt to find cures or explanations, that is understandable.

    Indeed. Having to cope with severe autism is something I would not wish on Dembski, his son and family. They have my sympathy.

    Of course it does not give credence to quack cures or fake explanations.

    There’s the rub. Andrew Wakefield is a dangerous individual who published fraudulent results to promote his lethal ideas. This study (H/T hotshoe_) deserves wider attention. And Dembski making a connection between critics slating Privileged Planet and suppressing dangerous propaganda that could bring about unnecessary deaths is a bit odd.

  12. Patrick Patrick
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    says:

    To compare and contrast, here’s what an actual joke by Dembski looks like (from The Wayback Machine):

    The Truth about How I Got into ID
    William Dembski
    Many critics of intelligent design think I got into ID because I’m a right wing fundamentalist who takes Genesis literally and wants to see its 6-day creation as mandatory teaching in the public school science curriculum. WRONG! Here’s the real story.

    Back in the mid-80s, Sahotra Sarkar and I were grad students at the University of Chicago, he in philosophy, I in mathematics. One day, at the International House (a 500-room dorm for grad students on the UofC campus), we were discussing what it would take to bring down Darwinism. He remarked rather off-handedly that it would take a “revival of William Paley.” “Hmm, Paley,” I mused.

    Suddenly, I had my life’s mission. Even though I was raised in a largely secular home with a biologist father who taught evolutionary biology and who was fond of reminding me that our ancestors swung from trees, I decided what better way to make a name for myself than to bring down the most popular and infamous theory in science.

    My plan quickly fell into place:

    – I would concoct a specious mathematical theory of design detection that critics of evolution could use as a weapon against Darwinism.
    – I would network with right-wing fanatics for whom a recrudescence of Paley could be a tool for their political agenda.
    – And finally, I would cash in on the celebrity associated with bringing down Darwin.

    On this last point, let me just say that intelligent design has been very, very good to me.

    Well, I’m glad I finally got this off my chest. So thank you Sahotra and all you valiant defenders of Darwinism for the fame and fortune you’ve made possible for me. I could never have done it without you.

  13. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    That was a joke, right?

  14. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick:
    That was a joke, right?

    Not all of it. “Specious” seems about right.

    Glen Davidson

  15. hotshoe_
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson: Oh yes, it’s persecution when pseudosciences that have been refuted ad nauseam don’t get to repeat the same BS yet again to more people in the hope of scoring points among the gullible.

    Why not astrology?Isn’t it orthodox enough for Dembski?Why not a faith healing film?Why shouldn’t one of those replace the anti-vax film?Does Dembski’s experience trump that?

    Somehow their selectivity isn’t guided by the evidence.Which isn’t surprising, since their cherished beliefs weren’t chosen according to the evidence.

    Glen Davidson

    This.

    I don’t have a grain of sympathy for Dembski in this case. He’s using his family’s sad affliction in a no-doubt heartfelt but still completely hypocritical fashion.

    Because he’s a dissembling old man who has realized he has wasted his entire life’s work and is suddenly desperate for publicity and relevance of any kind.

    Good luck with that, Billy.

  16. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick,

    So Dembski posted that at discovery.org on an April 1st?

  17. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: That was a joke, right?

    One wonders.

    It comes across as self-deprecating humor with a strong thread of truth.

  18. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz: So Dembski posted that at discovery.org on an April 1st?

    It was posted at billdembski.com. I’m not aware if that is associated with discovery.org. I’m assuming that he has purchased server space, apparently from rackspace.com.

  19. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz:
    Patrick,

    So Dembski posted that at discovery.org on an April 1st?

    The Wayback Machine shows the earliest version on April 5, 2005, so it could have been April Fool’s Day of that year.

  20. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    hotshoe_: I don’t have a grain of sympathy for Dembski in this case. He’s using his family’s sad affliction in a no-doubt heartfelt but still completely hypocritical fashion.

    I have sympathy for Dembski’s problem of having to raise a child who is not normal.

    But then raising a child is hard work anyway. And all children are abnormal in one way or another — it’s just that the abnormalities of autism are better documented.

    But, yes, I do fault Dembski for his reaction. I can understand it, but it is still a wrong reaction. Given his Christian beliefs, this situation called out for him to have the patience of Job. Instead, he is looking for scapegoats to blame.

  21. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert: And all children are abnormal in one way or another

    It was not always that way, not until we started vaccinating them.

  22. hotshoe_
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert: I have sympathy for Dembski’s problem of having to raise a child who is not normal.

    But then raising a child is hard work anyway.And all children are abnormal in one way or another — it’s just that the abnormalities of autism are better documented.

    But, yes, I do fault Dembski for his reaction.I can understand it, but it is still a wrong reaction.Given his Christian beliefs, this situation called out for him to have the patience of Job.Instead, he is looking for scapegoats to blame.

    Yes, all of this.

  23. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: It was not always that way, not until we started vaccinating them.

    That’s true. Before there were mass vaccination programs, many children would die of infectious diseases before they were old enough to exhibit their own peculiar uniquenesses.

  24. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    In some ways, immunizations mimic the natural pre sanitation environment. My father used to say no one in India got paralytic polio, because they were exposed to the virus continuously from birth. Long before it was fashionable, he was a believer in less sanitation for infants. If the world had followed his advice, we might not be having an epidemic of peanut allergies.

    Exposure to potential allergins while breast feeding is the way to minimize allergies. He was not a crank. He was a state health officer for 24 years, and was offered the post of director of CDC in 1957.

    Back to the point, vaccines mimic natural low level exposure. Modern vaccines protect against bugs that are not yet domesticated by evolution, because the bugs haven’t developed an optimum mode of infection, or human populations haven’t optimized their defence.

  25. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka: Modern vaccines protect against bugs that are not yet domesticated by evolution, because the bugs haven’t developed an optimum mode of infection, or human populations haven’t optimized their defence.

    Given that evolution is an optimization algorithm, is it any wonder people think of it as a search?

  26. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Given that evolution is an optimization algorithm, is it any wonder people think of it as a search?

    I’ve really lost hope that you or any of the IDists posting here will ever figure it out.

  27. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Right. It only searches under the street lamp.

  28. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung,

    Indeed. In spite of Dembski’s complaints, the film has not been censored and has not been prevented from being shown. All that happened, was that a particular film festival declined to give its endorsement.

  29. Robert Byers
    Ignored
    says:

    Lets actually think about these things.
    IS IT IMPOSSIBLE pumping people with stuff will not hurt them. isn’t the whole point of drugs that it can affect people.
    You can say for sure vaccines are PERFECTLY safe.??
    I think they are safe or safe enough relative to not taking them.
    Indeed accusations against vacs should hjave to earn their spurs.
    making movies about them gets around that.
    HOWEVER movies do nothing but make accusations. Hollywood is one long rant against this or that. Right from the beginning.
    Interfering with some movie shows the ABSURDITY that movies matter OTHERWISE.
    Its like when they denied Mel Gibsons movie of christ a nomination jUST BECAUSE it was seen as putting Jews in a bad light. Credibility and legitimacy is gone forever.
    ANYWAYS.
    I didn’t know Dembski had a austic child.
    Its very unlikely it came from the vaccines.
    Yet there is always a chance they interfered with the triggering mechanism for the memory.
    I do insist autism is just in a spectrum of messing with the triggering mechanism for the memory.
    another point here comes up.
    Its often the smarter parents who get austitic children.Boys usually. I understand in both points there is this curve. Some say the smarter parents just get diagnosed more accurately whereas others kids would be put in the retarded spectrum etc etc.
    The hope is that if its more sociological them physical then as time goes by the boys will just snap into place.
    Smarter parents too early get the kids focusing/memorizing and interfere with normal development at a sensitive time.
    Its one of his twins but simply , possibly, one was more attentive.
    I speculate here and of coarse it could be physical.
    Yet it seems to me its always the smarter parents.
    Also emphasized by the data its mostly boys. Which makes sense as boys are more on the make then girls naturally.
    So there is hope the child will be normal as can be come 20 years old.

  30. Frankie Frankie
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert,

    However, I do think that creationists are poor at evaluating evidence.

    Evos don’t fare any better, Neil. And as a matter of fact evos have to make shit up and live in denial

  31. Frankie Frankie
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson,

    1 Science mandates that all design inferences eliminated necessity and chance, ie make a negative case

    2 ID’s positive case has been made and it is the same line of evidence used by archaeologists, forensic science and SETI

  32. stcordova
    Ignored
    says:

    To the extent vaccinations prevent fever in pregnant mothers, there is a good chance vaccines could actually reduce the probability of autism given all other factors in play.

    If I were to hazard some guesses (admittedly these are guesses) why there may have been an increase in autism, there is a correlation between age of the dad and the probability of autism. The average age of first time fathers is now at a record high at 33.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/new-baby-boom-but-firsttime-fathers-are-getting-older-20111025-1mi5d.html

    33 may be an age of better financial and overall family stability to be father, but biologically speaking in terms of the health of the dad’s gametes, somewhere around age 15 I heard is an optimal age (I don’t recall which eugenics study said this, but I think there is merit to youth in the biology of making children).

    The only possible cause of vaccines having negative effects might be some of the delivery mechanism (chemical mixed with the benign pathogens) or the something the pharma companies mess up. But immunization is part of nature, that’s how our combinatorial immune systems work!

  33. Robert Byers
    Ignored
    says:

    stcordova:
    To the extent vaccinations prevent fever in pregnant mothers, there is a good chance vaccines could actually reduce the probability of autism given all other factors in play.

    If I were to hazard some guesses (admittedly these are guesses) why there may have been an increase in autism, there is a correlation between age of the dad and the probability of autism.The average age of first time fathers is now at a record high at 33.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/new-baby-boom-but-firsttime-fathers-are-getting-older-20111025-1mi5d.html

    33 may be an age of better financial and overall family stability to be father, but biologically speaking in terms of the health of the dad’s gametes, somewhere around age 15 I heard is an optimal age (I don’t recall which eugenics study said this, but I think there is merit to youth in the biology of making children).

    The only possible cause of vaccines having negative effects might be some of the delivery mechanism (chemical mixed with the benign pathogens) or the something the pharma companies mess up.But immunization is part of nature, that’s how our combinatorial immune systems work!

    I think its unlikely dads age is a factor. by the way many deny there is a rise in autism. Just a change in diagnosis . That is they now call autistic what they once called retarded. So its just a issue of classification.

    The point is what is autism etc. ? how to heal it?
    i say creationism can do a better job.
    If autism was seen as just in a spectrum of triggering failure for the memory THEN drugs could be imagined to fix it. Because illegal drugs and alcohol mimic many or most or all mental problems in mankind. They just fade away quick enough.
    YEC has a better answer to what should not be such mysterious things.
    As I said above , POSSIBLY, some minor autistic manifestations, like what Dembski said about his kid is simply from the parents interfering with the kids memorizing abilities because the parents are smarter then average. The kid is being led to focus too soon and not learn at a accurate pace. I suspect in these cases there will be no noticable difference or any difference when they turn twenty or so.

  34. Woodbine
    Ignored
    says:

    Robert Byers: The point is what is autism etc?

    how to heal it?

    i say creationism can do a better job.

    How to Cure Autism = Young Earth Creationism.

    Never thought I’d hear that line.

  35. Robert Byers
    Ignored
    says:

    Woodbine: How to Cure Autism = Young Earth Creationism.

    Never thought I’d hear that line.

    Better presumptions leading to better ideas.
    The bible does make clear boundaries on human mentel problems.
    It clearly insusts we are immaterial souls and so impossible for a soul to have a mental problem of any kind. Impossible to be affected by the material world.
    SO it could only be what remains in human thinking is what goes wrong.
    That is the MIND or rather the memory.
    Since the memory is fantastic or rasther it is the mind THEN it could only be the triggering mechanism.
    this is what it is.
    this can be affected by owns own body malfunction or by our thought life and sociological impact.
    Autism is just a triggering problem regardless of severity.
    I suggest it ALSO can , possibly, come from parents, the smart ones. to much getting kids to focus, focus, focus, and then they don’t focus evenly.
    Speculation on that but it always seems it smarter people and their kids are fine come adulthood.
    Dembski would be a classic case.

  36. RoyLT
    Ignored
    says:

    Dembski once took his family to a meeting conducted by Todd Bentley, a faith healer, in hopes of receiving a “miraculous healing” for his son, who is autistic.

    He wrote that he did not regret the trip and called it an “education,” which showed “how easily religion can be abused, in this case to exploit our family.

    I don’t wish this sort of thing on anyone and I do feel genuine sympathy for the family over this. However, the hypocritical irony in these 2 sentences defies all rationality.

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