The Institute of Medicine held a workshop this past week to examine research into the "environmental" causes of autism. It was an opportunity for discussion among scientists pursuing possible links, and a chance for some of the autism "advocacy" community to press their research priorities. No less a bigwig than Alan Leshner, president of the AAAS and editor of Science, presided over the meeting, also attended by the directors of two of the National Institutes of Health.
The opinions of the parents of autistics, especially angry parents, occupy pride of place in our Oprah-fied public culture. Ignore them at your own peril. This is not an entirely bad thing. But there's a weird disparity between what's expected of the scientists and advocates in a setting like this.