Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Boycott Discover's Ignorant Ass

The lead article in the April 2007 issue of Discover Magazine is a truly godawful endorsement of autism quackery. I'm not writing a full review of it, as Interverbal already has provided a thorough critique, but here's a brief summary of why it stinks like a five-week-old dead fish:

The article begins with the tired old clichés of a suicidal autism mother and a cancer analogy. Then it claims that autism "can, in some and perhaps many cases, be successfully treated" and goes on to sing the praises of DAN! and the quack parade of Martha Herbert, Jill James and Amy Yasko. The author describes autism as a disorder caused by toxic exposure and says about one family's use of biomedical treatments, "Mercury chelation, in this particular child's case, was a near panacea." (Needless to say, the article never mentions that children have died from chelation or that it is widely used by quack alternative practitioners as a cure-all for everything from cancer to heart disease.) Verbiage such as "devastating derangements of autism," "trapped in a body that doesn't work," and "a mysteriously shuttered brain and body" appears prominently throughout the article.

Apparently the views of the author, Jill Neimark, regarding people with disabilities have not changed much since she interviewed Peter Singer several years ago and wrote that "he defends his points with powerful arguments."

Why boycott Discover for printing this article, you might ask, when ignorant garbage about autism shows up in the media all the time? Well, the short answer is that Discover is a geek magazine. Not just a magazine for sorta kinda semi-geeks, but a publication that has been read and enjoyed (until now) by large numbers of technology-loving, math-puzzle-solving, origins-of-the-universe-pondering AUTISTIC geeks.

To put it another way, Discover's dumbass management just took a big ugly chomp out of the hand that feeds them. And we can and should make them pay for it. Discover is one of the few products where the number of autistic buyers is significant enough so that we can wield some noticeable economic clout. What's more, it is a totally frivolous item that nobody really needs to buy, so there is no hardship involved in going without it.

Here are the addresses where we can write to Discover's editors and explain why we have no intention of renewing our subscriptions (or, for those who are occasional readers of the magazine, why we won't buy any more copies from the newsstands).


90 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011

Let's kick some quack-loving bigot ass.

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  • Too bad you didn't learn anything from the article. Perhaps you could make your brain work right.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 8:57 PM  

  • In the same issue of Discover Magazine, there is an article by science writer and MIT professor Seth Lloyd. (p53)

    Sure, there is more science information out there. Too bad most of it is junk.

    Maybe Professor Lloyd would be interested in our comments too.

    By Blogger notmercury, at 9:06 PM  

  • SAR readers are being encouraged to buy it and the ASA is touting the article.

    By Blogger kristina, at 9:22 PM  

  • Oh, great. I wonder how many copies of this one I'll have on my front porch come morning. :P

    By Blogger Joeymom, at 12:22 AM  

  • New Scientist is a much better magazine anyway :)

    By Anonymous Mum Is Thinking, at 6:02 PM  

  • Poor FS...

    Johnny no-mates....

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 6:58 PM  

  • You forget the tens of thousands of autisdm families that will now continue to support Discover magazine after the article on autism. We will more than make up for you and your few friends no longer willing to buy it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:45 AM  

  • Hi Anonymous, or should I say JB Handley? Your tens of thousands mantra is starting to get a bit tiresome.

    **big yawn**

    Do you think that if you repeat it enough, it'll magically become true?

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:07 PM  

  • While it did bring up some interesting theories (brain inflamation, oxidative stress, etc...) not mentioning those who died during chelation (and the amount of quacks who made a fortune from mercury removal ala Hal Huggins) is just irrisponsible.

    And giving DAN! such fuzzy-wuzzy treatment. Most of them are freaking scientologists for goodness sake!!!!

    I am so pissed off I spent $5 on that magazine after seeing the title on the cover.

    By Blogger Linda, at 9:23 AM  

  • This edition of Discover mag isn't on in the newsagents in the part of Australia where I live yet. I've only just started buying this magazine lately, and I'm quite surprised and disappointed that they have published an article that sounds like a such a bunch of bollocks.

    The editors of this magazine should know that most of their readers are either what Baron-Cohen would call systemizers (close to autistic) or are actually on the autistic spectrum.
    A recent article in this magazine about a dating agency for scientists mentioned that some people on the books of this agency were self-diagnosed aspies, and the magazine appears to be for scientists and the scientifically-minded, so ...

    I even wrote a blog article not long ago about an article in Discover, pointing out a relationship between excellence in science writing and autism/AS.

    Long live NEW SCIENTIST magazine!!! New Scientist; the science magazine of first choice for all intelligent geeks and aspies, a magazine from the UK, a nation where science and reason are valued and respected!

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 1:09 AM  

  • The brain inflammation stuff fits in with the idea that Autistic children have trouble focusing because they are constantly hearing their heart beat hammering against their tightly packed skulls. You autistic adults in here, do you have a permanent head ache from hearing your heart beat? Are your brains ten percent bigger than average, but your heads regular sized? Any body found a diet that helps you interact socially, meaning that you don't repeat your own name when some one says "Hi Erma," or what ever your name is, to you?

    And those of you post like you know all the answers for how to help my son function more independently, come on, share some thing useful. We parents with kids segregated/stuck into the worst performing schools because of their "autism" could really use some help from this community.

    By Blogger Dan, at 12:02 AM  

  • Dan, at first glance, I assumed your post to be a nonsensical trollish joke from a DAN! supporter and not worth a reply.

    But just on the off chance that you are a worried parent who actually believes that stuff, I have been reading posts by autistic adults on websites and forums for several years and have never seen anyone write about a permanent headache from hearing their heart beat. If that's the latest theory du jour in DAN! circles, I think somebody needs a new career writing scripts for cheap horror movies.

    I often blog about the evils of school segregation and mistreatment of autistic students. You'll find many posts on that subject if you search this site.

    By Blogger abfh, at 1:02 PM  

  • abfh, I need your help. I wrote this earlier...


    so guess what the person sends me...yep, Discover! I feel sick and I don't want to talk about it in a public forum right now.(Someday, I'd like to be a bfh, but I'm not there yet). If you would visit my site and e-mail me, I would appreciate that. If not, I understand.

    By Blogger Bev, at 8:30 PM  

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