Mark McDonald, America’s Frontline Doctors, and some very troubling beliefs about autism Aaron Rabinowitz The Skeptic

In my last article, I highlighted how the UK-centred anti-vaxxer movement went from never mentioning trans people at their conference to thoroughly incorporating the moral panic around queer theory at that same conference just a year later. As is weirdly normal for the conspiracism beat, a week before the article went live someone sent me a deeply unsurprising piece of the puzzle. Check out this picture of a recent anti-vaxxer event hosted by the pro-hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin activist group, America’s Frontline Doctors, above.

The event included the group’s founder, Simone Gold, who served most of a 60 day federal prison sentence for participating in the Jan 6th Capitol Hill Insurrection, and was headlined by Dr Robert Malone of Joe Rogan fame. Recognise anybody else? For your sake I hope not.


Yep, that’s James “Ok Groomer” Lindsay, the guy who should be famous for having predicted that globalists would murder five billion people over the past few years, standing right behind Dr Malone. In previous articles I’ve covered Lindsay’s connection to white Christian nationalist politics, his time spent in anti-vax sympathetic spaces like a party hosted by Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago, and how he was cited as an expert at the most recent Better Way conference. As far as I know this is the first time he’s donned the performative white lab coat for an event such as this, and may be the first time he has ever worn one given that his doctorate is in mathematics and not medicine. So, when I saw there was a video of Lindsay on the America’s Frontline Doctors website, I thought this was going to be a follow-up article about how Lindsay was spreading his ideology into new spheres of conspiracism.

That is not what this article is about.

Lindsay, it turns out, is the least terrible part of the video, and that’s despite his brag at one point that he went to the airport knowing he had Covid and still only wore a mask when he was forced to. In the video, titled “The National and Human Psyche by Dr James Lindsay and Dr. Mark McDonald”, Lindsay sits down with Dr McDonald to talk about their shared hatred of the social justice left, and their experiences touring the country talking to folks about the twin horrors of wokeness and children with autism. To be clear, they aren’t decrying the struggles of achieving equity for children with autism, or even the deeply misguided attempts by anti-vaxxers to prevent autism by refusing vaccinations. Instead, as best as I can tell, their point is that autistic kids are terrible compared to properly raised kids, and that they’re what’s wrong with society. That’s what this article is about.

McDonald is a practicing psychiatrist and author of the book “United State of Fear: How America Fell Victim to a Mass Delusion”. In his book, McDonald claims we are suffering from a mass delusional psychosis “rooted in the natural anxieties of women on behalf of their children and families, inflamed and amplified by sensationalistic media, and driven over the top by hamfisted authoritarian measures from those in power”. This is your standard macho-masculine anti-lockdown rhetoric, glazed with psychological jargon.

In the discussion with Lindsay, McDonald blames society’s ills on “hyper-secularisation, meaning an attack on religion”. He does so while sitting next to someone who actively advocated for secularisation until very recently, and at no point do either of them express even an awareness of that fact, much less any cognitive dissonance about it. Their opening statement is just broad pearl clutching that:

what used to be virtuous, courage, sacrifice, family, religious belief, they’ve all become tainted… and been replaced with communalism; big government, self-sacrifice to the higher power meaning the government; narcissism, which is huge; emotional instability; hysteria; and selfishness.

There’s a lot to unpack here: the conservative anxiety about the loss of a fictional noble past, the fear of modern tyranny of the state over every aspect of life, and then the need to pathologise political opponents as insane to the point of being ethically dangerous.

McDonald critiques the left’s “attack on the family, meaning elevation of single parent households married to the government rather than two parent households married to the community and the land”. I always worry that my time studying antisemitic conspiracism has made me paranoid, but when I hear someone lamenting a fall from a fictional noble past and calling for a return to heteronormative families living in idyllic agrarian communities, I can’t help hearing a longwinded version of the Nazi call for “blood and soil”.

McDonald also describes Covid lockdowns as “raped humanitarianism” that succeeded because “the US we’re a kind open people… because we haven’t been through some of the horrid histories of other countries.” To which, I have to wonder which country he thinks has a worse history than a country built on violently stolen land, worked by violently enslaved peoples, that has violently perpetuated exploitative capitalism to the point of murdering both American activists and democratically-elected leaders of other countries. Maybe the British, or the countries that we have both exploited, I guess.

If McDonald had stuck to soft peddling the trad fash life and whining about atheists, I wouldn’t be writing about him. However, he goes on to claim that social media has “developed and encouraged the rise of an out-of-proportion degree of authority and presence of autistic people”. His reasoning is that society is now dominated by autistic people because they can run society online without having to engage in face-to-face interactions. He never comes back to this point, but it’s just so wild to hear it lumped in with boilerplate conservatism, I wanted it noted. Meanwhile, Lindsay just nods along to all of this like it is completely normal.

Adults with Autism are apparently not the only threat our society faces: children with autism are also the worst, according to McDonald. I’m not being hyperbolic, McDonald explicitly (at 0:17:57 in the video) explains that he and Lindsay:

were just talking about how the non-autistic children, the ones that are polite and respectful, that we run into as we travel the country, are always home schooled, always, they’re lovely, they’re not indoctrinated they’re just taught reality and common sense and good values and then they grow into their own.

To be clear, McDonald is explaining how all the nice, good children he meets are home schooled, implying that all the disrespectful children he met were either autistic, publicly schooled, or both. No mention of a differential outcome for autistic children who were home schooled, possibly because they don’t fit into McDonald’s worldview, or perhaps he doesn’t think they exist. It’s not like he explains his need to attack autistic children as a way to attack secularism; the sense I got is he seems to just find them genuinely unpleasant to be around. Lindsay hedges ever so slightly, but agrees that the internet:

took the normal filters off… and I don’t wanna necessarily say just autism, but any kind of social awkwardness or introversion upload onto social media very easily. It’s a borderline personality disorders playground.

No real pushback from a guy who pathologically needs to take his own advice and log off.

At this point, I had to learn more about McDonald, and I’d say it gets worse but I’m pretty sure there’s no farther down than shit-talking autistic kids, so let’s just say it just gets weirder. The Q and A starts with a question about when America started to struggle with fear of one’s neighbour. McDonald steps up first with a big swing at “tribalism”, which he claims has been happening since the 60s and 70s, explaining how “feminism is entirely a movement based on hate and the destruction of both femininity and masculinity, entirely,” before clarifying he only means post-war feminism, not the suffragettes – who, of course, were a movement famous for never questioning femininity or using violence against men to get results.

The undercurrent of anti-feminist and incel-adjacent language made me wonder, and a Google search turned up his 2022 Substack article “Why American Women are Undatable: Nobody wants to play with a porcupine”, where he echoes many of the things he discusses with Lindsay, especially “the utter decline of the presence and valuing of masculinity in the United States” lamenting that “we have a nation of Eunuchs”. When asked about the causes of the collapse of gender norms, he mumbles about “oestrogen in the water” before pointing out a more real problem that young men don’t know how to function as well as we might like in many social contexts.

they don’t know how to speak, how to talk, how to date, how to express their desires for a woman, for a job, for money, and this is the core of masculinity, and if you can’t do that, then you have opened up a chasm and vacuum into which hyper-feminity flourishes and hyper-feminity is just as unbalanced as hypermasculinity. You want all raping and violence, go all male, you want all histrionics and crying, go all female.


It seems true that people in general, and men in particular, are struggling with making connections in our modern world, but that seems more likely to be a product of the alienation of late-stage capitalism than the fact that men are no longer allowed to properly express their violently rapey nature in culturally-approved ways. The Substack is worth reading out loud for some amazing whinging about girls wearing over-sized unfeminine clothing, projecting “limitless entitlement”. Here’s just one gem in an emerald mine’s worth of horrifying treasures:

Women in this country have been taught that looks don’t matter, that career is more important than family, that men are either dangerous or weak and incapable, and that the world would be a better place if only women were in charge. Everything they are taught is wrong.

Bear in mind, this is the guy who said “you want all raping and violence, go all male”, so the signals are a bit mixed.

Sometimes I get hung up on needing a philosophical point to these articles, a deeper way to explain how McDonald’s anti-feminist, incel-adjacent rhetoric is tied in with his antivaxxerism and fetishising of trad conservative naturalism. Not this time. McDonald reminded me that sometimes our job is just to show the public what these conspiracy mongers sound like when they’re masks off around friends.

The post Mark McDonald, America’s Frontline Doctors, and some very troubling beliefs about autism appeared first on The Skeptic.

A recent interview between former atheist James Lindsay and Dr Mark McDonald showed the distasteful views anti-vaxxers share when among friends
The post Mark McDonald, America’s Frontline Doctors, and some very troubling beliefs about autism appeared first on The Skeptic.