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Comment: Re:The vessel matters (Score 1) 581

by Jason Levine (#46747311) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

What's your logical foundation for your belief that all human life is precious?

Suppose we decide that all human life isn't precious. (Not based on religious beliefs, but based on simple human decency.) Are some human lives more valuable than others? According to your logic, we should just let people get measles and if they die they die. What if they have a certain knowledge or talent that many people find useful? Perhaps they are a beloved author or a celebrated scientist who keeps making great discoveries. Maybe the person is a master at getting warring regions to sign even-handed peace treaties or helps the needy. Whatever they do, let's suppose their contributions to society are very important. Do we save them?

If not, we've lost some huge contributions to society. If so, we're headed down a path where people dictate which people are more important (and thus will be saved) and which people aren't (and thus will die). That's a scary path to go down.

Comment: Re:Bloody Idiot (Score 2) 581

by Jason Levine (#46746517) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

True. (Penn and Teller's original statement was much more effective than my paraphrasing.)

My only quibble would be that - were it just the anti-vaxxers' kids' health at stake, I might be able to be convinced that this is a "parental choice" issue. It would still be a tough sell, of course, but it would be within the realm of possibility. The problem is that when an anti-vaxxer doesn't get their kid vaccinated, they are also putting other people at risk - people who can't get the vaccine because of age (babies) or actual medical problems (allergies, immune system issues). These people rely on herd immunity and anti-vaxxers are weakening that to the point of collapse.

Comment: Re:This is an ancient one... (Score 2) 581

by Jason Levine (#46746287) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

I saw the "toxins" shift as more of a response to the rest of their claims being debunked left and right. Every time they claimed something specific (e.g. "mercury in vaccines causes autism!!!"), they would be proven wrong quickly and repeatedly. With the "toxins" claim, they are vague enough that they can't be disproved and yet "toxins" is scary enough of a word to convince some people not to vaccinate. After all, who wants to expose their kids to [scary voice] TOXINS!!! [/scary voice]

Comment: Re:Bloody Idiot (Score 4, Insightful) 581

by Jason Levine (#46746247) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

We tried the "more discipline" thing and here's the weird thing about autistic kids, you can't just "threaten/punish the autism out." More discipline didn't work and was, in fact, making the situation worse. So we got a child psychologist to evaluate our son. She spent three hours in his classroom (observing him but pretending to observe the entire class so he wouldn't act any differently). Then, another day, he went to her office and she talked with him for three hours. She produced a detailed report on our son that diagnosed him as having Asperger's Syndrome/High Functioning Autism. We put supports in place to help him and, surprise surprise, they worked. Whereas before he would have daily hour-long meltdowns in school, he is now having them much less frequently and with much less severity.

My own (admittedly) self-diagnosis came later as we were reading up on Autism to try to better understand our son. I realized that all of these books were describing my own life. I could get a diagnosis, but that would spend money we don't have and wouldn't help either me or my son. So I'm content to remain "undiagnosed" for now.

As far as why are so many being diagnosed now? It's because of better detection, plain and simple. In the past, many with autism were written off as being "shy" or "weird" or (worse) "retarded." (NOTE: Don't use that last word around a parent of a child with autism. I'm only including it as a reference of what was used in the past.) Furthermore, theories of what causes autism have changed. In the past, mothers were blamed. The so-called "refrigerator mom" theory said that moms who weren't loving enough made their kids autistic. This likely kept many from getting a diagnosis as it would be "proof" that they weren't motherly enough. Furthermore, many autistic individuals were simply hidden away and not talked about or referred to as "Crazy Uncle Joe."

Nowadays, better diagnosis, more understanding, and available therapies can help people with autism to function in a neurotypical world. Sadly, we still need to deal with people who, in their ignorance of the true nature of autism, think we should just "be given more discipline" or that we'll "grow out of it" or that we're just "excusing bad behavior."

Comment: Demanding "safe" vaccines (Score 4, Insightful) 581

by Jason Levine (#46746119) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

McCarthy is being highly deceitful when she says the only wants "safe" vaccines. What she means by safe is: 100% effective with no side effects and no unexpected reactions in anyone. No medicine ever attains that level of "safe." Not even the aspirin you take for a headache. No, vaccines aren't 100% safe, but they are about 99.999% safe. They are certainly much safer than getting the diseases they prevent. If she wants to wait until something is 100% safe before using it, she would have to avoid all modern medicine. That includes the botox that McCarthy loves getting injected with. (Vaccine toxins are bad but botulinum toxin fights wrinkles so it's good!)

Comment: Re:Fakes (Score 1) 120

by Jason Levine (#46746045) Attached to: 44% of Twitter Users Have Never Tweeted

I'm a big user of Twitter and, yes, have even been known to post photos of my food from time to time. (Most times, the photo is used to illustrate a specific point, not just "Having my usual oatmeal.")

That being said, there are some trends on Twitter that make even me shake my head. To name two, there's the "sock" photos where guys post photos of themselves wearing nothing but a sock. (No, not on their feet.) Ostensibly, this is to raise money to fight testicular cancer, but you'll never see me posting a photo of this. The second one is "After Sex Selfies." Again, not something I'll ever engage in. (Any bets on how long it takes until some idiot tries to get "During Sex Selfies" to go viral?)

Comment: Re:Yeah, maybe not now (Score 4, Interesting) 581

by Jason Levine (#46745977) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

Rewriting history is nothing new for people in the anti-vax movement. At first, it was just the MMR which caused autism. (Wakefield's original study - since discredited and proven wrong many, many times.) Then, it was the mercury in vaccines. Then, it was the sheer number of vaccines. Then, it was "toxins" in the vaccines. As each claim was proven wrong, the anti-vax folks moved on to a new claim and declared that scientists had to now prove this new one wrong or they would be "proven" correct. (Never mind that science doesn't work this way. You don't get to make a claim with no evidence and then declare that you are right until people prove you wrong.)

Moving the goalposts is business as usual for the anti-vax crowd so why shouldn't McCarthy try to rewrite history?

Comment: Re:Bloody Idiot (Score 5, Insightful) 581

by Jason Levine (#46745943) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

And speaking as the parent of someone who is autistic (and who knows many other parents of kids with autism and also as someone who is likely autistic as well albeit undiagnosed): Even if they proved tomorrow that vaccines cause autism (and that's a very BIG if), I'd still line up for the measles shot. A child with measles might die or have permanent brain damage. A child with autism is still alive - they just have trouble dealing with the neurotypical world and might need more assistance than an NT kid does.

To paraphrase Penn and Teller: Even if vaccines caused autism - WHICH THEY DON'T - not vaccinating in order to avoid autism would still be stupid.

Comment: Re:Human Nature? (Score 2) 180

by Jason Levine (#46743739) Attached to: The Case For a Safer Smartphone

My boys might have a vested interest in not distracting me, but this doesn't mean that they realize during the heat of the moment that their fighting and screaming in the back seat of the car is distracting me. Should kids be banned from cars? What about babies? They might need a diaper change right in the middle of a long drive where there is nowhere to pull over. Nothing like the smell of a ripe diaper coming from the back seat to distract you. Except, perhaps, the tell-tale sound of an diaper explosion that may or may not have been contained by the diaper. Should babies be banned from cars?

Comment: Re:If you can learn to put a beer down while drivi (Score 1) 180

by Jason Levine (#46743723) Attached to: The Case For a Safer Smartphone

What I really want to know is this: How is the phone going to be able to tell whether I'm the driver or a passenger?

That was my first question also. I don't really have a problem with a phone that prevents me from actively using it while I'm driving mainly because I won't be actively using it while driving. (Exceptions: Already programmed Google Maps navigation where I'm listening to the robo-voice telling me to turn right in 500 feet or taking a short phone call using a bluetooth headset.)

However, if I want to update my Twitter feed or play a game and I'm sitting in the passenger seat, why shouldn't I? If my phone "helpfully" says "you are driving now, you can't use me", then I'll say a) where's the Turn Off This Feature setting or b) I want a new phone without this feature!

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