Over at the Natural Variation blog, Joseph has a post up where he is trying to say that the "anti-vax" movement is losing steam. Ignoring for a moment the pejorative label "anti-vax", the idea behind the post is that media is losing interest in stories about a possible connection between vaccines and autism and the number of submissions to VAERS claiming autism is falling.
I think both measures are of questionable value, to say the least. Google news archive only includes selected sources while ignoring others, such as blogs or sites behind paywalls, so it can hardly be though of as an accurate measure of interest. As for VAERS, it wasn't meant to do this sort of tracking nor is it an accurate measure of all children who had a reaction to a vaccine - especially for controversial relationships like autism.
Or in other words, Joseph's charts don't show anything meaningful.
But, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. I decided to do my own version of Joseph's analysis, this time on the media's interest in the neurodiversity movement. So without further ado, here are two pretty charts for you to look at.
In the following charts, the "Neurodiversity" label refers to the number of stories returned by Google News Archive per year for the search term "neurodiversity and autism". The "Vaccine" labels refers to stores per year for the term "autism and vaccine". Finally, the "autism" label refers to stories per year for the term "autism". Obviously, the data for 2010 is incomplete as it is only April.
The first chart is absolute number of stories per year in each of the three categories. See if you can find the "neurodiversity" point (hint, it hit its high point in 2008 with 35 stories).
This second chart is the number of stories for neurodiversity and vacancies, represented as the number of stories per 100 (or basically percent of stories per topic). To make it easier to find the neurodiversity line I made it extra bold in this chart.
I think the conclusion is clear. While it is possible that the "anti-vax" movement is losing steam, the neurodiversity movement isn't even on the radar.