Cleanup Needed in Aisle Two
The second story is about a neuroscientist at the University of Louisville, by the name of Manuel Casanova, who is claiming to have made a breakthrough discovery resulting in an incredible new treatment for autism (yeah right, how many times have we heard that one?) I don't give active links to crap like that, but you can find the full article at wave3.com/Global/story.asp?S=5146301 if you're feeling inclined to read something incredible, in the literal sense of the word. Here's an excerpt that begins by describing autistic brain structure:
More cells and smaller cells, making up tiny brain strands, or minicolumns. These minicolumns take in information, process it and respond to it.
But the increased amount of cells works to increase other abilities -- like mathematics.
Armed with this knowledge, Dr. Casanova is ready to begin working on wiping out autism entirely. "Knowing the pathology, what is wrong with the brains of autistic individuals, opens the door to potential strategies that may actually even lead to a cure."
Dr. Casanova's first step: developing a brain stimulator to bulk-up the brain strands. And he feels so strongly about the potential that he's ready to pay for it with his own money.
Yes, that's the actual wording. "Wiping out." As if 70 million human beings were some sort of noxious infestation. Hey, let's drop a nucular bomb on them thar minicolumns, Bubba. Red-blooded normal folks don't need no wimpy mathematicians doin' no fancy figgerin' nohow.
I'm not actually worried that the next generation of autistics might get their brain architecture restructured into gleaming normality with the amazing handy-dandy brain stimulator. My common sense quack-o-meter tells me it's about as much of a cure for autism as horse manure. What's got me pissed off is that more helpless autistic children are going to be victims of yet another quack cure, zapped with the latest Frankensteinian device as if their brains were no more valuable than those of lab rats. More parents will be fleeced out of their savings with bogus science and phony promises. And more news articles will describe autistic people as vermin to be exterminated.
You want to do some brain wiping, Dr. Manuel Casanova? This is what I have for you: A virtual mop and bucket to clean up the grimy residue of your humanity, along with some virtual disinfectant to wipe out your genocidal bigotry.
Edit, July 19, 2006: Dr. Casanova has left a comment on the Autism Vox blog concerning this story, in which he asserts that he was misquoted (but doesn't actually deny making the "wiping out" statement). Whether or not he said it, my main point stands: Altering the natural structure of millions of children's brains—to make them conform to the expectations of a society that values football players more than mathematicians—is a despicable goal.
Second edit, July 30, 2006: Dr. Casanova also posted on Aspies for Freedom and wrote that he never said he was getting ready to wipe out autism. I've written more about that in a new post, My Publicist Ate My Homework.