Skeptical Raptor's Blog hunting pseudoscience in the internet jungle

Chili’s kind of, sort of revises support for an antivaccination group


As reported earlier today and yesterday that on April 7, Chili’s, a chain of sit-down restaurants, is planning to contribute 10% of each guest’s check, across the USA, to an organization whose mission is to support the needs of the autism community. The reasons that Chili’s has chosen to do this are both noble and heartfelt, based on a viral story involving one of their restaurants. On the surface, it appears that this is a great example of being a good corporate citizen, and though I have never eaten at Chili’s, I considered doing so because I strongly support autism advocacy and research. 

©2014, Autism Science Foundation. This group accepts the scientific facts that vaccines do not cause autism, and states it explicitly on their web page.

©2014, Autism Science Foundation. This group accepts the scientific facts that vaccines do not cause autism, and states it explicitly on their web page.

 

Of course, I know that a significant minority of autism advocacy groups support some pseudoscientific and dangerous beliefs, so I check them closely. Unfortunately, the contributions from Chili’s are all going to National Autism Association, whose website states, in the section that discusses causes of autism, the following:

While mainstream science discounts vaccinations as a cause, members of the National Autism Association feel vaccinations have triggered autism in a subset of children, and that an overly aggressive vaccination schedule coupled with toxic adjuvants in vaccines could affect individuals who have a family history of autoimmune disorders specifically. As with any medication, adverse events do happen, and vaccinations are no exception. Research to investigate, and reduce, adverse events in immunized individuals is currently nonexistent.

The National Autism Association believes: Vaccinations can trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children, especially those who are genetically predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.

There isn’t anything truthful or factual in that statement. The scientific consensus, the scientific fact is that vaccines are totally unrelated to autism. In study after study, researcher confirmed that there is no correlation, let alone causation, between immunizations and autism. And let’s remember that the Dark Prince of vaccines and autism is the notorious MrAndy Wakefield, whose original paper was retracted because the data was gathered fraudulently. If you want to read all about Wakefield’s despicable deceit, you can read it herehere, and here, a series of articles published in the British Medical Journal, a respected peer-reviewed publication.

Unfortunately, in the past 24 hours, Chili’s, being backed into a corner for their support of an organization that will harm more children than help, decided to double-down on their support of the National Autism Association with this post on their corporate Facebook page (and please go comment there if you can–it may help):

At Chili’s Grill & Bar, we’re about making every guest feel special and pride ourselves in giving back to our communities. When choosing a charitable partner for our Give Back Events, both locally and nationally, we are committed to supporting organizations dedicated to helping children and their families.

The intent of our 4/7 National Give Back Event is not to express a view on this matter, but rather to support the families affected by autism. Our choice to partner with the National Autism Association was based on the percentage of donations that would go directly to providing financial assistance to families and supporting programs that aid the development and safety of children with autism. We sincerely appreciate all of the feedback we’ve heard on this topic.

I think it’s important that corporations like Chili’s support autism advocacy groups. But not all of these groups are equal, and the National Autism Association deliberately misleads the general public by being 1) a fairly well-known autism advocacy organization that 2) makes a ridiculous statement that vaccines are associated with autism. Chili’s could do better than this.

But then maybe social media is beginning to back Chili’s more and more into a much tighter corner. On their Facebook page, they posted the following statement this afternoon:

Chili’s Grill & Bar Hi all- Thank you all for your thoughtful questions and feedback about Monday’s Give Back Night. We want you to know all funds raised on 4/7 will go directly to support the Big Red Safety Box Program, which provides free toolkits to help autism families prevent and respond to wandering-related emergencies -http://nationalautismassociation.org/big-red-safety-box/.

Obviously, Chili’s is concerned about giving money to a group that wants children to be intentionally harmed by not having them vaccinated, but it would be a corporate embarrassment to back down now. So they threw out a “compromise” that the Chili’s corporate public relations department thought might placate those of us who are pro-science (and pro-vaccine). The PR department probably slapped each other on the back in celebration of their brilliance. However, they must think that the vaccine supporters have a similar IQ to those in the antivaccine lunatic fringe.

The problem is that no one controls what’s in that “toolkit”, meaning it could still be carrying an outlandish antivaccination statement. Moreover, such a directed contribution means that the National Autism Association now has more money to spend on other efforts, like promoting the pseudoscience that vaccines cause autism. How is this a “compromise”? How is this anything more than continuing support of an organization that actively promotes harm to children by providing information to the public that may reduce the the number of vaccinations, leading to more outbreaks of diseases that were once conquered in the USA.

If you go out to dinner on April 7, or make a great meal for friends and family, take 10% of the cost of whatever you eat on April 7, and send it to groups such as Autistic Self Advocacy NetworkAutism Women’s NetworkGRASPAutism Science Foundation, and Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, all of which support autism advocacy and research, while not promoting the great lie about vaccines.

Vaccines do not cause autism. And real science has proven that.

Visit the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.

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