Vaccines cause autism, which leads to progressivism and…Trumpism?

There are some antivax conclusions (and arguments leading to those antivax conclusions) that I come across that are so stupid that I feel as though I’ve lost brain cells after reading them. Indeed, some ideas are basically black holes of stupid, such that their gravitational well of stupidity sucks into them any hint of intelligence, reason, or critical thinking that drifts too close to their event horizons. I’m about to discuss one such set of conclusions and arguments, because if I suffered through reading them you have to as well. This time around, they come from Toby Rogers, who the other day posted an article to his Substack entitled, Many of the central tenets of progressivism are actually autistic traits. I bet you can see where his argument leads, given that he accepts the standard antivax pseudoscience claiming that vaccines cause autism. Yes, Toby proceeds to argue that vaccines cause autism and that the personality traits associated with which result in people embracing the “tenets of progressivism,” which, to him, are “actually autistic traits.” His argument, as you might imagine, misrepresents what both progressivism and autism are, because of course it does. This is, after all, Toby Rogers. also That’s not all, though. He somehow thinks that vaccines also induce characteristics that lead people to follow Donald Trump. By the time I was finished reading his post, I wondered: Is there anything vaccines can’t do in antivax-land (other than cure disease, which antivaxxers deny)? I don’t know, but let’s take a look. Given that any Substack article needs a blurb after its title, Rogers was kind enough to sum up his argument in a single sentence: ‘The world is overwhelming’ so it leads to a desire to control all inputs including weather, speech, and other people So wait a minute. It is true that a prominent characteristic of autism is sensory issues, often hypersensitivity and a tendency to sensory overload. It is, however, a huge stretch to claim that sensory overload leads to a desire to control all inputs. Even if that tortured logic held, and sensory issues experienced by autistic people lead them to want to “control all [sensory] inputs,” it’s also a misrepresentation of progressivism to equate it with wanting to “control all inputs.” Of course, since when has an antivaxxer like Rogers ever cared that much if (1) he is correctly characterizing what autism is and how autistic people experience the world or (2) correctly defining phenomenon, be they medical, psychological, neurological, or political? (You know the answer to that question: Never.) So how did Rogers come to this brilliant “insight”? He’s more than happy to explain: Doggonit! I wish I hadn’t seen this. Because once you see it you cannot unsee it. It occurred to me this morning that many of the central tenets of progressivism are actually autistic traits. As I see it, vaccine injury creates the biological basis that leads to certain political beliefs that then lead to more vaccine injury in a vicious cycle. I’ll agree that, now that I’ve seen this argument, I wish I hadn’t. That’s because it’s so ignorantly stupid that I just can’t forget it, try as I might, which is why I decided that I had to write about it. Let’s just summarize thus far, though, the three main parts of Rogers’ “argument,” such as it is: Many of the central tenets of progressivism are actually autistic traits. This is, at best, highly arguable, but really just plain false. Vaccines cause autism. This is also just plain false. Therefore, vaccines cause progressivism, which leads to more vaccination, which circles us back to #1. This is sort of true in that progressives support vaccination and public health measures, but the part of circling back to #1 is pure, unadulterated bullshit. do Conveniently enough, Rogers uses this model to explain why antivax arguments don’t get through to “progressives”: We are not just dealing with an ideology. We are dealing with people who have been physically and neurologically changed by toxic injections. That’s one reason why our appeals to science, logic, and reason rarely get traction. So many people are neurologically injured by vaccines right now that the worldview that stems from this neurological injury becomes a LOGIC that propels the actions of left political parties throughout the developed world. What appears like centralized coordination in a grand conspiracy may actually just be millions of people who all share the same type of neurological injury. (Or it could be a grand conspiracy that also benefits from widespread neurological injury.) Got that, pro-vaccine progressives? The reason you don’t see Rogers’s brilliance and the obvious “science, logic, and reason” of antivaccine arguments is because your brain has been injured by “toxic injections,” producing a worldview that prevents you from seeing reason. (Convenient, no?) It’s also, conveniently enough, the reason why your politics are “progressive,” because, apparently, to Rogers no one would be progressive unless they were neurologically injured somehow, in this case by vaccines. That’s what’s responsible for the of a grand conspiracy to vaccinate everyone, not an actual grand conspiracy. Or it could be a grand conspiracy that just benefits from all that vaccination causing “neurological injury.” Or something. appearance Of course, consistent with his history of being both transphobic (like many antivaxxers, including Bill Maher) and antivax (and thinking that vaccines also cause The Trans), Rogers has to go transphobe too, before going on to autism: This thought has been coming to me for a while. One early clue was the realization that trans and autism overlap (people who are trans are 3 to 6 times more likely to be autistic than people who don’t have sex dysphoria). Since autism is usually vaccine injury then the higher rate of trans people with autism suggests that trans may be a vaccine injury too. A Midwestern Doctor has just written the definitive (thus far) article on the links between vaccination, human connection, autism, and sexual orientation. A Midwestern Doctor? The guy who thinks COVID-19 vaccine “shedding” is real? How did I miss that post. File it away for future discussion. It is true that autistic people are 3- to 6-times more likely to be gender-diverse (e.g., transgender, nonbinary, or gender-queer), and the relationship seems to be bidirectional, with a much higher rate of autism in transgender individuals. Ever since this overlap has been described in the scientific literature, antivaxxers have abused it to claim that vaccines cause autism which causes transgender. Or is it vaccines cause transgender, which causes autism? Or maybe it’s that vaccines cause transgender and autism. You get the idea. Given that vaccines don’t cause people to become autistic transgender, it’s a false narrative. Real scientists have proposed a number of hypotheses as to why gender incongruence and autism co-occur at disproportionate rates, but further research is needed to determine which hypothesis explains this co-occurrence the best. In the meantime, linking the two as manifestations of imaginary antivax “vaccine injury,” as Rogers and other antivaxxers do, is most definitely unhelpful to the point of being actively harmful. or Rogers then goes on to compare the diagnostic criteria of autism spectrum disorder from the DSM-V, apparently having gotten the idea from “a young activist, Jeremiah Hosea, who hosts a radio program in NYC called The Bassline” and had “done a ton of research.” Oh, goody. I gave the standard DSM-5 definition and then said that this is inadequate and explained the lived experience of autism and also described how, for people with autism, the various senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste, empathy, and so many more) are often turned way up to the point of being painful or turned way down to the point of seeming nonexistent. (The discussion starts at the 16 minute mark of the podcast). Okay but look at the official definition of autism from the DSM-5: A. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts… B. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following: Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., simple motor stereotypes, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia , idiosyncratic phrases). Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route or eat same food every day). Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g., strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests). Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g. apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement). I bet you’re wondering how Rogers can relate this to progressivism. Obviously, he can only do this by redefining progressivism according to the method of Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass : “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.” Think of Toby Rogers as Humpty Dumpty being master of the word “progressive” or “progressivism,” and you get the idea. If you accept his definition (which no political scientist would), then you can see his argument, in which he mischaracterizes the “central tenets of modern progressivism” as: We must control the weather. Of course, Rogers thinks climate science is a hoax and that it is hubris to try to slow down the accumulation of human-generated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in order to slow or reverse the warming of the planet. We must control all speech. Oddly enough, whenever I hear a “conservative” characterize progressivism as believing this, I have to think it’s all projection, given how much the right tries to control speech in this country. In reality, what Rogers objects to is measures to counter his ability to spread misinformation and disinformation. We must control all bodies. This is a beaut from Rogers: “Bodies can carry disease and this must be corrected with endless vaccines. Vaccines do not harm anyone ever and even if they do it is better than disease. Some people are born into the wrong bodies and this must be corrected. Surgeries and hormones do not harm anyone ever and even if they do it is better than suicide. Bodies die which is why technologists are working to upload our consciousness into the cloud so that we can live forever.’” The number of straw men here is amazing, and one can’t help but note how much the right wants to control women’s bodies by restricting access to reproductive healthcare. We must control the air and kill all viruses and bacteria. I’m not sure how this one is “progressive.” Justice sensitivity. I laughed out loud when I read this part: “Every issue is the issue and everything is genocide except the iatrogenocide. Universities have also become autistic progressive laboratories with safe spaces for students and faculty can be fired for saying upsetting things.” Of course, as I like to say, it is the right that has a lot of special snowflakes, triggered by mentions of vaccines, abortion, social justice, and, yes, LGBTQ+ rights. As for “iatrogenocide,” seriously? Antivax and anti-public health efforts to promote “natural herd immunity” through a “let ‘er rip” strategy to infect the young and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic cost countless lives. But don’t worry. Rogers understands. Really, he does. He can totally get it why progressives’ “rigid insistence on control is a hallmark of autism” even as he says it’s a “complete rejection of liberalism (that used to define the Democratic Party)”: But I hasten to add — this actually makes a ton of sense if we look at it from their perspective. If one’s senses are turned way up to the point where they are painful, of course one wants to control all inputs. For me it’s sound, I have dog ears that can hear a creaky air conditioner motor 100 yards away — through walls, trees, glass windows, etc. So I’m always trying to control and reduce the sounds around me (turning things off, telling other people to turn things off, being angry at people when they fail to turn things off, sitting in the sweltering heat because I turned everything off, frequently changing locations to try to find a better spot for my ears, etc.). I can also tell you to the decibel how much sound a particular lighting fixture is emitting. Needless to say this makes me difficult to be around. Now multiply that tendency across all of the different senses and several million people (or even several hundred million people) who all have similar difficulties and you’ve got a widespread yearning for an ideology of control. Wait, what? Did Rogers just admit that he might be…on the spectrum? He’s describing hypersensitivity to sounds and all the measures to which he goes to avoid sounds that cause him discomfort. Or maybe this is just a rather transparent ploy to tell autistic people that he understands them and why, in his view, they want total control over everything. Either way…WTF? But wait! Rogers admits that he’s not entirely comfortable with the construct he’s created. Even as he accuses “high-functioning people on the spectrum in science, medicine, technology, and academia” of horrible assaults on freedom, he also now thinks that it’s all due to vaccine injury. I kid you not, even as he says that what he is saying is “a bit more subtle than that.” (It’s not.) See what I mean: We can say with certainty that progressivism is now inflected with autistic tendencies. But I think it’s bigger than that. Progressivism is now driven by vaccine injury. I think that explains the weird ideological shifts that we’ve seen in progressivism (from liberalism to totalitarianism) over the last decade. Obviously I’m uncomfortable with this seeming parallel between vaccine injury and totalitarianism. But I’m actually trying to say something a bit more subtle than that. I think that people who are in pain and overwhelmed are drawn to the order and calm of systems where “the trains run on time.” The current powers that be have exploited this to advance Global High Tech Pharma Fascism. But one could also imagine more egalitarian models that serve this purpose like Japan where there is a premium placed on kindness, decorum, and efficiency. How nice. He’s racist too. Perhaps the funniest part of Rogers’ whole post is when he turns his attention to Republicans and supporters of former President Donald Trump, trying to tie their damaging beliefs to vaccine-caused autism as well. (Is everyone autistic due to vaccines? Reading Rogers, I have to wonder.) Seriously, I laughed out loud again reading this part, because Rogers argues that Trumpism is related to vaccine injury as well but is very, very confused: I think the Trump phenomenon is a sign of widespread vaccine injury in society too. Trump just says whatever the heck he wants without regard for social norms and one-third of the country goes wild for this and feels seen and heard for the first time. That’s not normal either. Republicans’ inability to effectively use their House majority and their failure, thus far, to respond to the obvious threat of the WHO Pandemic Treaty also suggest widespread neurological injury amongst the leading national Republicans. But I cannot seem to work out the rest of it. Are Republicans somewhat LESS vaccine injured (owing to fewer shots overall) than Democrats or are Republicans DIFFERENTLY vaccine injured than Democrats or some combination thereof? See what I mean? He thinks Republicans are brain-damaged too due to vaccines, but can’t work out how they’re differently brain-damaged compared to Democrats, to the point that he even postulates that they suffered a different form of “vaccine injury.” To explain it, he focuses on one diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V for autism: hyper- or hyporeactivity to environmental stimuli. In his “model,” the “progressives” who want to control everything are the people with vaccine-caused autism who are hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, while the Trumpists are hyposensitive: Since there is a distribution curve of vaccine injury across a population one could hypothesize that people self-segregate, politically, based on their type of injury. Perhaps those whose senses are turned way up gravitate toward Democrats (to control everything) and those whose senses are turned way down gravitate toward Republicans (with a novelty-seeking President who provides endless excitement)? In an earlier era (the 1950s) it was the opposite — Republicans sought order and calm and Democrats were novelty-seeking. So perhaps the patterns of vaccine injury have changed over time (they have, in an earlier era Republicans were more likely to be vaccinated but since John F. Kennedy, Democrats are now among the most vaccinated people on Earth). Anything to blame those vaccines! I would, however, question whether in the past Republicans were more likely to be vaccinated. As I used to write 15 years ago or so, back then antivax beliefs were distributed pretty evenly between the right and the left, and, as I like to point out now, it’s only been in the last 15 years or so (in particular the last 10 or so, and even more during the pandemic) that we’ve seen a very strong rightward shift in the political center of gravity of the antivax movement. In any event, no matter how scattershot and confused his arguments are, Rogers is sure of two things. First, even Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s Presidential campaign is “too timid thus far to propose the steps that would stop this widespread poisoning of society.” Second: The bottom line is that vaccine injury is so widespread that it has radically warped ideology in ways that threaten the future of our country and the planet. We absolutely must stop the poisoning of society, arrest and prosecute the people who did this to us, and then detox and rebuild our bodies and society from the ground up. That’s right. To Rogers, as it is to all antivaxxers, it’s the vaccines and the “poisoning” caused by them that are responsible for every bad thing that they see in society. Rogers is one of those antivaxxers who clearly doesn’t like “progressives” but also doesn’t like Trump, not so much because he doesn’t like Trump’s politics but because he’s someone who “just says whatever the heck he wants without regard for social norms” and never went far enough to eliminate vaccines. In a way, I marvel at Rogers’ ability to blame vaccines for everything he dislikes in American politics, both on the left and the right. Truly, to him vaccines are the all-purpose cause of everything dysfunctional in our government and politics, no matter how much he has to do a Humpty Dumpty on words like “autism,” “progressivism,” and the like to make his argument. He also owes me the brain cells that I lost reading his drivel, but I know from that same drivel that not only does he have none to spare but he has a huge shortage of neurons.

This content was originally published here.