Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jabberwocky of the Day : Sophomoricus

Flickr photo by Lebatihem
Did you know that my coverage of medical studies is, in the words of Sophomoricus (aka Socrates of the New Republic), "Thermonuclear-Grade Bullshit"?

I don't normally read anything written at the New Republic (I like my humor more childish and less sophomoric) but I happened to notice that he had this to say concerning my recent post on trace and toxic elements -
Continuing the Heavy Metal theme, Autism Jabbawocky continues to spout tendentious, half-understood, mis-remembered junk, in ever more desperate attempts to catch the eye of Harold Doherty, in the hope of an invitation to join him on a horse riding holiday in Wyoming
He went on to quote the part of my post where I talked about how my children have some of the deficiencies shown in the study -
However, it is my feeling that these results do reflect the reality of what can happen in certain children with autism. As a case in point, all of my own children show an elevated (almost toxic) level of copper, a low level of zinc (2 of 3 were zinc deficient), and low levels of selenium
So far we have just another person who doesn't take the time to actually read and understand what they are attempting to mock. It is sad but not unusual enough to comment on. But the funny part comes next, in the comments section, where Sophomoricus announces that evidence based medicine should not be based on evidence but rather the popularity of the idea.

I started the comment thread with -
I am glad you find my children's nutritional problems amusing.
OK, so it wasn't the best opening. I get annoyed when people think nutritional problems should be mocked. Sophomoricus responded by saying -
The thermonuclear-grade bullshit is the issue at question, not your children.
to which I said -
Then you must not have read the text that you quoted where I said my children were zinc deficient, had low levels of selenium, and had too high levels of copper.
Do you understand what these substances do inside the body and what the developmental implications are? From your flippant tone, I don't think you do. So here's an easy one to get you started zinc deficiency -
So what is the bullshit here - your lack of understanding of biology or your irrational disbelief of scientific evidence that these trace elements are out of balance in some children who have autism?
And then we get to the funny response -
Look dude - if your graph had even the slightest chance (1 in 100) of holding true - every autism research group on the globe would be chasing the prize.
I have absolutely no doubt levels of all kind of things are out of kilter in Autistics. I'm too busy experiencing the Joy of Autism to further engage with you at this poit. 'cuse me while I go get chelated.
There you have it, a scientific study isn't valid unless it wins awards for popularity. Here, I was laboring under the apparently false impression that a study's data and interpretation of the data was the important part. But no, it is the popularity of the idea that matters, not the data. That would explain why the mainly genetic model of autism is still talked about even though no one has managed to find any significant genetic links to autism as a whole.

The bonus joke here has to do with chelation - does anyone know what one of the accepted medical treatments is for people who have toxic levels of lead or copper?


  1. Just ignore Socrates. I suspect he is usually drunk when he writes most of the stuff he wrotes on his own blog and in the comments he makes on my blog and on other blogs.

  2. From some of his past comments, I would not be surprised if that were the case. However, I would also not be surprised if he kept talking about alcohol to give him an excuse for his actions.

    Either way, if you are going to dish it....