Pseudoscience Can Kill

So you don’t believe in vaccines, don’t trust doctors, and are pretty sure your friends and relatives are just as trustworthy a source of medical advice. What could go wrong? Well, unfortunately, you may kill yourself, your child, or someone else that you care about.

Take the case of MMS, an illegal compound comprised primarily of Clorite (industrial bleach) that is ingested by children to cure Autism. The main proponents, Kerri Rivera and Jim Humble, are neither scientists nor are they medical doctors. Kerri Rivera is the mother of an autistic son who adopted the MMS treatments and has since become a key spokesperson alongside The Archbishop Jim Humble, inventor of MMS (rather, the person claiming industrial bleach as a cure for Autism) and founder of the Genesis II Church, an astro-cult based on the use of MMS and similar in some respects to Scientology (of which Humble was once a member). Still, they promote the use of industrial bleach to kill parasites that they claim cause Autism. Dealing with the claim that Autism is an infection that can be cured, Professor Michael Fitzgerald explains that Autism has “a massive genetic element to it, heretability about 93%.”

Since there is so much emotion and confusion surrounding Autism, here is some basic information. Autism was first described in 1943 by Leo Kanner with the first cases discussed by Kanner originating around 1938. This timeline fits with genetics research on humans in general, as most geneticists were still working with fruit flies until the 1920s. It was not until 1980, when infantile Autism (Autism in babies and newborns) was first listed as a potential diagnosis in the DSM that any newborn could be diagnosed with the disorder. This seems worth mentioning since the common theme among anti-vaccine ideologues who believe that vaccines cause Autism is that a ‘rise in Autism diagnoses correlates with a rise in vaccination of children.’ This, can also be put thus: the rise in Autism diagnoses correlates directly with major advances in medical science, decreased infant mortality rates and drastic decreases in early childhood deaths due to disease within industrialized countries. Simply put, children are more likely to be diagnosed with Autism because doctors are willing and able to diagnose it, not because Autism numbers have increased with the use of vaccines.

Of course, if you are the parent of a child diagnosed with Autism, you are placed immediately in a scary, confusing world of unknowns. You are told that this is your child, this is how your child will be for the rest of their life and there is no changing that. You are told that by medical doctors, anyway. So, when a brief internet search reveals talk of hyperbaric chambers and homeopathic dilutions that claim to cure Autism, and ‘experts’ say that the medical doctors are wrong, perhaps these self-styled gurus seem to be worth a shot. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

Homeopathy and other forms of ‘alternative medicine’ are dubbed ‘alternative’ because they have either not been clinically tested, or have been and failed to show clinically significant medical benefit. This is not to say that all treatments or practices falling within the realm of ‘alternative medicine’ are harmful, but some definitely are. In 2013, 18-month old Mercy Maynard died after parents refused spinal tap and, instead sought the help of pro-Homeopathy Dr. Martha Grout M.D. who administered a 3.4ml dose of Amygdalin and died 27 hours later due to cardiac arrest. Mercy’s parents sought treatment for retinoblastoma, ocular cancer, but went to a doctor that gave their toddler a lethal dose of a Homeopathic remedy whose active ingredient is believed to be cyanide. Martha Grout is no longer permitted to practice medicine in Florida where Mercy died, she still holds a medical license in Arizona and Hawaii. Mercy’s death is one of many attributed to ‘alternative medicine.’ Still more children are hurt or scarred by untested ‘natural treatments’ that administer non-medications or medicines in unhealthy dosages deemed acceptable by misinformed parents or prescribed by ill-advised practitioners.

Psuedoscience can kill. Whether its a self-styled guru, such as Archbishop Jim, or a mother who has a vested and emotionally-informed interest in a product’s veracity, such as Kerri Rivera, belief is no substitute for clinical trials and wishing an ailment wasn’t permanent doesn’t make it so. Distrust of the medical profession, or of vaccines doesn’t mean that it is worth risking a child’s life (or your own for that matter). If you consider the words of Sarah Kurchak who wrote “I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles” then you should also consider the further statement that would read ‘I’m Autistic, and believe me, it’s a lot better than being dead.”

For More Info on MMS

For More info on Autism, please seek peer-reviewed medical source material (see: Google Scholar).

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