Monday, March 28, 2011
Dear Dr. Willis:
Thank you sharing your important article, "Science or bunk: How to tell the difference" (Northern Illinois University Today, January 18, 2011). I applaud your insight and believe your thoughts are of particular relevance for individuals with autism and those who care about them. This population is one that is desperate for answers and, as a result, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of pseudoscience.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of people promoting unfounded and untested treatments for individuals on the autism spectrum. You astutely point out that there are both direct and indirect costs for allowing pseudoscience to persist. In cases such as the MMR vaccine/autism controversy, countless children have become ill and some have even died. In addition, pursuit of interventions without empirical support also leads to poorer outcomes for this population, which often becomes a burden to society as a whole in the years to come.
In a time when media hype and uninformed celebrity testimonials are given greater attention than the important scientific advancements in the field, it is refreshing to have scientists such as yourself publicly promoting critical thinking and highlighting the importance of becoming informed consumers.
Robert H. LaRue, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Board Member, Association for Science in Autism Treatment
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