Tales of an Aspie Freedom Fighter

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Ethics Of Generation Rescue

The Mercury debate has been going back and forth for a long while now. But that not what I am here to talk about. There are already many arguments on ether side of the belt. Instead I am going to critique about the pro-mercury organization Generation Rescue, based on numerous things from their own website.

One of the things that I noticed that might not seem to be that questionable is the "Rescue Angels". From the website they are,

Parent-Founders of Generation Rescue who are volunteering their time and knowledge to help you. They are parents of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder who have either recovered their own children and/or are currently treating their children biomedically.
Treating your child requires the care of a qualified health care professional, and Rescue Angels may be able to provide you with local recommendations based on their own experience. Search the listings below to find someone within your general proximity and feel free to contact them directly via their email address.
Please contact only one Rescue Angel at a time. In order to prevent confusion and help make the best use of their time, please initiate contact with one Rescue Angel rather than several. Contacting several at once actually slows their response time and may result in no response at all. Rescue Angels are not Doctors and they do not offer medical advice.

The problem is that recommending doctors is medical advice. It is called a Referral. There is an issue of trust here. When my GP refers me to a specialist I trust that my GP is sending me to someone that is competent. That because there are system's governing their practice. It may not always work probably, but at least it's there. How does Generation Rescue assure the ethical behaviour of their "Rescue Angels"? JB Handley's excellent judge of character?! For example how can a parent know that their "Rescue Angel" is not getting kickbacks from the doctors the are "recommending". Generation Rescue would probably never know. Of course this is only a hypothetical scenario. The only way that they guarantee they're own behaviour is that the romantic notion that there is a sacred bond between parents of autistic children. And people say I am naive! Using the same logic it should be the case that all human beings should be united in peace since we all shared the same experience of being born! Just because someone has a Autistic child does not mean they the can't be a complete asshole as well.

Even assuming that the "Rescue Angels" all have good intentions (And I am not saying that they don't), there is another problem. In recommending a doctor, how are they accessing the competency of that doctor? Well they say how right up there, "... based on [the rescue angel's] own experience". Well that is just dandy. Problem is that unless they there all doctors, they couldn't possibly have the medical knowledge to access a doctors competency. Basing a recommendation on a general impression is a dangerous practice. The thing is con artists are experts at creating a good impression of themselves (And that's what quacks really are medical con-artists). In fact they can be so good that their marks never find out that they where had and will actually get other people to fall for it.

But this is just the icing of the cake. Let's take a step back and look at the big picture. What is Generation Rescue doing here is taking parents that had their doctor refuse Chelation Therapy and sending them to doctors that will. They justify this by saying that doctors and science are irrationally holding on to the past (source). A very unfair criticism since this is a part of the scientific process. All new medical procedures must pass through this gauntlet to come into practice. It's the same idea with scientific theories. Any doctor that performs a unapproved procedure is acting unethically. And Generation Rescue is encouraging this by giving these doctors customers. It's unethical because until it has been accepted by the medical establishment they is now accepted way of knowing wherever or not the mercury theory is true. That leads to the most disturbing trait this group has. Generation Rescue is completely and blindly convinced without any doubt (at least in public) that they are right. It shows all over their site. For example they always reference Autistics as mercury poisoned children. And one must consider John Best Jr's posts on AFF. He was absolutely flabbergasted that we would not want to have our mercury cleared. In his mind it was a undeniable fact that mercury causes autism. He didn't even come to debate it. But, there are no undeniable facts in science or life. Everything we know could be absolutely wrong. Socrates said "True knowing is knowing you know nothing". If that is the case what does anyone who thinks that they know something really know?