Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autism: Science vs. Ignoramuses

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the H1N1 vaccine has "stirred the debate" over the link between autism and vaccines.


Let's examine this debate. On the one side we have Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones:
"The studies have been pretty clear and consistent that vaccination is not the cause of many of the things that have been claimed around the vaccine," he said.

And there's this from Health Canada:
Misconception: Vaccines are linked to chronic diseases such as autism, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Crohn's disease.
The Facts: These are false claims made by anti-vaccine books and Web sites. Recent research using the best scientific methods, and reviews of studies from around the world, provide strong evidence that ...

I could go on and on. The side telling you that vaccines are safe and one of the greatest tools of modern medicine is the side that does scientific research and that has your interests at heart. They're the educated, intelligent, careful people.

On the other side is Jenny McCarthy and her band of technical illiterates. Jenny is mad and has decided, in the face of all evidence, that vaccines made her son autistic. She and others like her have forced the scientific establishment to prove relentlessly something that was already beyond a reasonable doubt: vaccines have no relationship to autism.

But that's not how the Citizen paints it. There are "two sides" to this debate. And the Citizen is going to tell you both of them.
The theory that childhood vaccines are behind an upsurge of autism cases emerged in the 1990s and in recent years has gained high-profile advocates such as Hollywood star Jenny McCarthy

That's not a theory. It's completely unfair to use scientific language to make stupid, illiterate, many-times debunked claims sound scientific. A "theory" in science is an explanation for a body of facts. The anti-vaccination crowd has no facts. There's no correlation between vaccines and autism. There's nothing to explain. Their "theory" is an explanation for something that doesn't exist.

I could as easily have a "theory" on how to keep leprechauns from stealing your vegetables. Until someone finds leprechauns in their garden, it's not a theory.

The Citizen ought to be blisteringly excoriated for this pathetic attempt to stoke a controversy and for its endangerment of the general health of the public.

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1 comment:

Nikki said...

My thoughts exactly! People think they are doing something great when they present "both sides" (as if anything were that black & white by the way) of an issue but they seem to not realize that the sides are not always even.
Just because someone believes something and calls it a theory, does not mean their opinion should be as valued as scientific evidence.

Hey, I have a theory:
My theory is that vaccines cause aging. I mean, my kids get vaccinated and then as the months go by they seem to get older and older! It's horrible. WE MUST STOP IT!
Maybe I can get a celebrity spokesperson whose claim to fame is picking their nose on TV.