Streams

No Vaccine Link to Autism

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shankar Vedantam, national reporter covering human behavior for the Washington Post, reviews yesterday's special court ruling that there is no link between the M.M.R. vaccine and autism.

Guests:

Shankar Vedantam

Comments [60]

Andrew

What really gets me is that there is no accountability for the people who are on the wrong side. If the scientists misrepresented evidence, there would be dire consequences for their career, their lives. That is fine, because we expect scientific professionals to conform to an ethical code of conduct. But, if these irrational anti-vaccine groups turn out to be wrong, they will simply go on with their lives, even though they may have convinced thousands of parents to abstain from potentially life-saving vaccines (potentially life-saving for not just the un-vaccinated children, but nearby children who are unable to benefit from vaccines due to personal biology and rely on herd immunity).

Mar. 04 2009 02:08 PM
Andrew

Scientists perform their studies with due diligence and after years of research and testing, they release products with reasonable assurance that their results will not harm the end-users. To those who thumb your nose at later discoveries that these products are harmful: know that these are the exceptions and not the norm. There is always room for error but with properly applied science, it is rare.

Science never claims to know everything. That's the beauty of it. It's an ongoing process where things are learned and outdated, erroneous information is thrown out.

I am appalled by some people speaking of scientific findings as just one opinion, as if it were based on one person's arbitrary biases and ruminations. I don't see how people can devalue evidence that--when viewed by anyone qualified enough to read it--is seen as legitimate and true. This is going to sound harsh, but anyone who argues against the evidence simply hasn't read it yet or doesn't have the education or qualifications to read the reports and understand it.

There is nothing but science.

Even worse is the presumptuousness displayed by anti-vacciners, who claim that they just feel it in their gut. They just know. Based on what? You're a parent, fine. You look out for your child. That doesn't make you qualified to discount years, decades of objective research. We're afraid to attack the anti-vaccine parents because no matter how softly you say it, you come out looking like a villain for merely questioning that parental instinct.

Mar. 04 2009 02:06 PM
r j mills

Now, let me get this straight.

There are parents of millions of children over the years who say their perfectly normal, healthy children either died or were permanently disabled shortly after routine vaccinations.

Then there are the drug companies who make billions off of these vaccinations constantly parading their “independent” studies and “unbiased” doctors in the news and occasional “hearings”, reiterating the mantra that there’s “no link” between the vaccines and any damage. The same companies that if they EVER admitted there was any connection would face lawsuits that would promptly bankrupt them, and public outrage that would cause the tobacco company lawsuits to pale in comparison. Then there’s the government (that lies all the time about everything) backing up these statements, whose agencies and politicians make millions or more off the drug companies through lobbying, donations and just plain graft. Lastly, there’s the networks and other media outlets who make billions from the drug companies via DTCM (Direct to Consumer Marketing) gleefully broadcasting the latest “findings”.

And just who is it we’re supposed to believe? Now there’s a NO-BRAINER!!!

Feb. 17 2009 12:37 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

Thought I recognised that name... Heh!

http://foossolvesunified.com/

Feb. 15 2009 07:01 AM
Alan Foos

I'll say it again, per strict standards of statistical inference, there's no effective vaccine, but by the same scientific standards, there is both strict correlation and cause and effect for the fact that mercury in vaccines (plus plancental diffusion, amalgams, etc) DO cause autism (and many other disease syndromes. That's why I extended the common RB statistical design for the purpose of identifying extraneous variables - after I was fired from the gov in 1981 for refusing to embezzle money! Yup. I never hear from them, though. If it isn't fraud, then it isn't gov or med. http://mercuryxxpoisoned.com

Feb. 14 2009 10:34 PM
Denise from Broklyn from Booklyn, N.Y

My son was vaccine injured, lost speech,cognition and had alot of neurological damage. We will not go away! and this is very real to us.

Feb. 14 2009 07:29 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

Interesting how the absurd vaccine scaremongering has mutated over time and become almost as infectious as the measles virus itself. From the outright crackpottery and lies of the chemical cranks to the insidiously bad advice and disinformation of Dr Sears' book, there is now something designed to defeat the intellectual immune system of almost anyone. Very depressing.

Feb. 14 2009 02:08 PM
Marie from Westchester, NY

I was very troubled by the guest host's insinuation that the judges in this case were perhaps not qualified to make a ruling because they were neither scientists nor medical professionals. Do you not have an understanding of how our legal system works? Judges are required to be experts in the law and the analysis of factual information and evidence. Judges are not required to have, nor do they need, a medical background to try a malpractice case, or an engineering background to try a case about a construction site catastrophe, etc. etc. By questioning their qualifications you give support to those who doubt this ruling - and that is a true disservice to your listeners.

Feb. 14 2009 10:26 AM
deborah from texas

I find it hard to fathom, that there never has been enough Scientific studies on vaccines. have seen thousands causal by vaccines.
All one needs to see is that over 187 drugs have been pushed through the market without any human trials or testing, ie: Gardasil or Celebrex, Synthroid,Premarin which have caused deaths.

Thimerosol or mercury is not the only harmful ingredient in the vaccines, and still the manufacturers are lying.
also remember other ingredients in vaccines are the following: aluminum, polysorbate 80,formaldehyde, antifreeze aborted fetal cells, a cancer vitim's ovaries (the offensive part) added on.

As far as anyone is concerned autism stats were 1 in 100,000 //now 1 in 60 in the military
and 1 in 110 statewide in the U.S.A.
Also suggest that everyone including Brian Lehrer actually read the ingredients in the vaccines http://www.rense.com/general59/vvac.htm

It is kind of odd that this case used a tax attorney
and witness for vaccines is Paul Offit, who has his reputation stakes on manufactured vaccines for profit of his own vaccines.
I was a lab chemist and Microbiologist for over 10 yrs, this vaccine defense is just "junk science" at it's best.
am amazed that a NPR station would not delve into facts before allowing a one sided show to air

Feb. 14 2009 09:57 AM
Ray Gallup from Lake Hiawatha, NJ


Our kids that were damaged by the vaccines and who now have regressive autism are not going away. Our son, Eric, tested positive for myelin basic protein antibodies and has elevated measles antibody titers (ten times higher than a normal person readings) in blood tests. Eric regressed into autism after being normal when he received the MMR vaccine.

Now he is in an out-of-state residential center at age 24 years-old. The state is picking up his care along with Social Security and Medicaid payments.

Just think of thousands of more like Eric on state/Federal assistance. Maybe that won't matter when the public will pay billions of dollars for these kids over their lifetimes. People have to care for Eric and others like him over their lifetime.

Feb. 14 2009 09:43 AM
Diane from NY

STORY, RAGGEDY ANN! almost 100yrs ago,Marcella Gruelle the youngest daughter of Johnny Gruelle was inoculated at school. She loses her appetite, becomes feverish and fatigued. Her parents do not consent to more inoculations, yet more are given. Marcella's health declines. She loses muscle conrol, becoming listless & lifeless like a ragdoll; dies a slow and painful death. 7 leading drs are called upon to opine about the cause of death. 6 consented result of vaccine induced poisoning/malpractice. 1 (head of school board & supporter of vaccination) declines to comment. Shortly after Marcella's death, Johnny creates a doll much different from the more popular rigid dolls in a fitting tribute to his only daughter, he designs a doll to represent her limp and dying body.
http://www.njvaccinationchoice.org/raggedyann.html

The vaccine is the trigger of a predispositoned medical mitocondrial disorder and this was proven in court last year. These children can not detox the toxins out of their body like other children...and this is not safe for them.

When children are detoxed and get better...back to what they were...we need to listen to the parents and look at what/how these children recovered.

Search Mercury toxitity and Autism...the symptoms are the same.
http://www.vaccinationnews.com/scandals/feb_15_02/comparison_symptoms.htm

Feb. 14 2009 08:30 AM
george from Poughkeepsie

When will Macolm Gladwell do a book on vaccines and belief systems?

This debate is much more about attribution than it is about the evidence...and it happens time and time again, in various contexts: NASA faked the moon landings, the WTC towers fell because of controlled explosions, Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor. Conspiracies fit the facts...

For instance, one comment took issue with the fact that the decision was by a special master who was a "tax attorney." So? It's a legal decision based on the evidence submitted by the parties' experts, not a diagnosis.

Feb. 14 2009 08:22 AM
Gerard Bookman from Murray Hill, NY 10156.

I caught Gary Null's show on public radio 91.5 FM WNYE at noon on Wednesday, where Dr. Wakefield had an opportunity to tell his side of the story. I was heartened to hear him point out that the Pharma public relations lobbies will be hurt in the long term by the falsehoods contained in The Sunday Times article.
Would it be unfair to accuse Andrea of bias?
I feel that Brian would have encouraged an open dialog.

Feb. 14 2009 02:27 AM
Denise Nason from ny

autism is mercury poisoning. Do the research and you will see the exact same symptoms. autism a.k.a. mercury poisoning. This has already been proven. Shame on the government for using all our taxpayers money yo pay for their bias big pharma studies. Dr. Wakefield is a genius and I am so proud of him for sticking to his guns by sticking to his research which shows the measles virsus stays in some children's stomaches. Anyone that does the research on autism and vaccines will come to the conclusion that vaccines do cause autism. Journalist on the big screen should do the research before stating their bias opinion that vaccines don't cause autism. Information is knowledge; govrnment is suppressing that facts.

Feb. 14 2009 12:23 AM
Alan Foos

May I just add... autism is caused 90% by Hg exposure, but the first exposure is placental diffusion from amalgams/vaccines in the mother, so the seriously affected are most likely to have noticeable symptoms as newborns. Those will be far more vulnerable to future exposures, e.g., HFCS, amalgams, etc... The cause of autism is the mercury, mostly vaccines, but other toxins compound the effect. This is 100% correct by scientific standards based on observations (tragic ones) of family members which conform to rigid statistical standards for making such conclusions. Parents are NOT imagining anything, they're just getting hit from all sides, particularly by the lies and denials of medical reps and their government payees.

Feb. 13 2009 11:48 PM
Alan Foos

Mr. Wakefield's data I can't be sure of, but his conclusions were correct. I'm 60yoa, BA, MSs, 8yrs univ biology/chem/math, high gpa, research with statistical design. Oservations of family members and med records provide 100% scientific certainty that autism and many other disorders, however diagnosed, are caused (roughly 90%) by vaccines and/or amalgams, or rather the mercury (MOSTLY, but also other) toxins in them. Few are properly diagnosed, morbidity is often overlooked due to the large number of uncontrolled variables and lack of profit motive for real medicine. Claims that vaccines are effective are based on biased studies w/o support for cause and effect, aka lies. For those who are affected by the vaccines, your (childs?) life may well become the living hell of a victim being slowly, rituallly murdered by the gov/med "system." Do you really think it's just autism or only 1/150? How about ten years from now? For those who can add, you may find the statistical theorem I wrote for spoofing bias in statistical designs to sharpen your scientific wit and open your eyes... the most significant result of my scientific career after being fired for refusing to embezzle money in the gov under dire threat, 1981. The "judges" making such decisions are not well educated in procedures of statistical inference, either, but rely on the conclusions of industry reps paid out of the profits generated from the lies they concoct. The judges conclusions... not science, only another rubber stamp for fraud... http://mercuryxxpoisoned.com

Feb. 13 2009 11:35 PM
ellen bol from Michigan

I am expecting 2 grandchildren in July.
I am gathering as much info on vaccinations as possible.
Put Erin Brokovich on the case.
Why do we need a chickpox vac. anyway I had them when I was a kid along with my 7 siblings and 14 cousins- we all survived.

Feb. 13 2009 09:59 PM
Rayme from Illinois - former NY'er

Why is it that these health institutions that advocate that vaccines are safe often work under the motto, "It's safe until it is proven unsafe". Remember $ Money $ erodes Trust. These billion dollar drug companies give 'campaign contributions' to government officials to get their drugs on the market. Numerous scientists have been linking vaccines to autism, but if vaccines are a for profit business then I'm sure they can find a financial incentive to find their own scientists to introduce 'junk science' to support that vaccines are safe and we need not have an actual open debate between these two groups of scientists, all the while they rake in billions at the expense of little kids.

Feb. 13 2009 09:56 PM
Leslie Feldman from California

Why doesn't the known cause of autism and schizophrenia make the news very often. There is over 50 year of research on this question.
http://how-old-is-too-old.blogspot.com/ Autism, schizophrenia, bipolar, Alzheimer's, cancers, autoimmune disorders etc. etc. all rise with paternal age, on a population level.

Feb. 13 2009 07:40 PM
Cassandra from MD Coalition for Vaccine Choice

1. The case was prepared by a TAX attorney

2. Offit 'for profit' comments, " these are unfortunate coincidences" thousands??

3. Special Masters were sympathetic but did not feel they were entitled to a reward. ( this does not clear the safety of the vaccine nor mean the vaccine did not cause the reaction)

4. When more Pharma companies came to the US and started getting sued because of numerous reactions they decided that it was "not profitable" to continue to go to court. A vaccine injury fund and vaccine court was established - hummmm. They donate 75 cents a vaccine into this fund.

5. Over the past 20 years there have been over 1500 cases and 1.8 billion dollars in damages.

I really hope they appeal and get an more competent attorney.

Regardless of the decision in the court case, this does not mean that the
reaction did not happen to these children. It was based on the evidence
provided that I have not seen or read in its entirety.

I can speak to the ‘body of evidence’ that continues to grow. Our children are
having reactions, some more severe than others. Based on adverse reactions
reported in VAERS it is certainly possible that the MMR vaccine can contribute to
a child becoming autistic.

Even with other factors, genetics ( vaccines can alter), environment etc - the fact is children are having reactions, impairments and chronic health issues after vaccinations. This is why it is so important to be informed before you vaccinate, know what the risks and warning signs are of reactions.

With out getting into the nitty gritty, many in the medical community continue
to deny and water down vaccination reactions including the connection between
the MMR and Autism and other health issues.

There is too much conflict of interest.

Read more on MMR and Autism
http://mdvaccinechoice.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/wakefield-fact-or-fiction/

Feb. 13 2009 07:40 PM
Dennis OBrien from El Paso Texas

The amount of people with horror stories and evidence of something happening after the vaccines are too many to discount them as not credible! The drug companies are too well connected and society is too willing to accept without question.

But,this is one area that we shouldn't be willing to accept a shade of grey! My advise is don't allow vaccination until there is no doubt no shade of grey.

Feb. 13 2009 06:55 PM
i from USA

I agree with #38. Also, 30-40 yrs ago there were only 4-6 shots in the schedule, now it is 30something... Of course the number of autistic+spectrum disorders and other chronic illnesses are on the rise! I can't beileve people do not see the connection. shots are definetly the trigger to start the domino effect...

Feb. 13 2009 04:18 PM
Micaela from Los Angeles

And finally, the title of this article is misleading at best. The court case to which this story is referring is for 3 cases only. It does not definitively say that autism is NOT caused by the MMR. It says that in these 3 cases, it was "more likely than not" not caused by the shots.

On a side note, the court took the evidence 19 MONTHS ago. That is more than a year and a half. Does not seem to me that it was overhwhemingly easy for them to come to that conclusion. Do not confuse this court case for "proof".

Feb. 13 2009 04:03 PM
Micaela from Los Angeles

To all those claiming that we now have better means of diagnosing autism than 30 years ago, can you also explain to me where all the 30, 40, and 50 year-old undiagnosed autistic adults are?

Probably not, because they don't exist. If you know 150 people your age and none of them is autistic, then chances are the rates were NOT the same in the 60's or 70's. Homes for the developmentally disabled would be exploding with autistic adults if this were the case.

This kind of logic drives me bonkers. I thought NPR would do more research into this kind of topic instead of blindly reporting whatever CNN or NBC does.

Feb. 13 2009 03:54 PM
Micaela from Los Angeles

I find it concerning that people, especially medical professionals, put their whole trust in our government agencies who are populated by representatives from pharmaceutical companies. Pharma lobbyists are some of the biggest out here and they have the bottom line as their top priority, NOT our health.

I am not myself convinced that vaccines cause autism, but no REPUTABLE study has convinced me either way. Pharmaceutical companies, or their subsidiaries, have the most money, therefore, fund the most research. Do you think they're going to publish findings against their products?

See the British Medical Journal article that studied 279 influenza studies in 259 medical journals. Their conclusion, "Publication in prestigious journals is associated with partial or total industry funding, and this association is not explained by study quality or size." For the full article, visit here: http://www.nvic.org/Downloads/Jeffersonetal-BMJ2009.aspx

Whether or not you think vaccines are God's gift or the anti-christ, the American public deserves unbiased research before parents are going to put their trust in our vaccines again.

Feb. 13 2009 03:50 PM
Rachel from Chardon Ohio

Vaccines are NOT safe and effective as they would have you believe. They being the pharmaceutical companies, the CDC and the AMA.

There is just too too much MONEY involved.

I personally know 2 children that were brain damaged and I know of another baby that died after his shots and the father was arrested and sent to prison for over 2 YEARS for shaken baby syndrome.

I lost count how many people I know that have had severe reactions.

Research the ingredients that go into the vaccines I bet you it will make you think twice.

Vaccines are an abomination.

Feb. 13 2009 03:23 PM
Dawn from NH

By the way, to read about my family's vaccine-induced nightmare, go to Sept 2008 of

http://vaccinesexposed.blogspot.com

Feb. 13 2009 01:54 PM
Dawn from NH

My infant and I were injured by vaccines in 2007. I have 3 other vaccine-injured victims in my family I have since learned after viewing side effects to vaccines, medical records, baby photos, and baby books. Like hell vaccines don't cause Autism. The CDC is corrupt, Health and Human Services is corrupt, as well as WHO, the FDA, and pharmaceutical companies. Why not do a study involving SPECT scans on the brain before/after vaccination? Simple - we WOULD see the damage done in many. With all of the controversy surrounding vaccines over the last 10 years - I have come to the conclusion that doctors and nurses are corrupt also. They make a killing off of prescription drugs - which are needed due to the damages caused by vaccines. Everybody, do your homework - these diseases are not that deadly afterall - according to the CDC's reports anyways. Buy the Vaccine Safety Manual by Neil Z. Miller.

Feb. 13 2009 01:43 PM
Dewey Duffel from Thompson Falls, MT

In my mind there are two important questions here: Do vaccines cause autism? And if so, is mercury in vaccines the only reason?

In 2005, Dan Olmsted of the UPI found two large unvaccinated populations with very low rates of autism. One population was unvaccinated Amish and the other population was children cared for Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago. The two unvaccinated populations autism rates confirmed that vaccination is the main route whereby poisons enter the body of children to cause autism.

Was mercury in vaccines the only culprit? No, clearly not as two good studies proved using the MMR vaccine which does not contain mercury. The Danish MMR autism study had a combined total of over 500,000 thousand children. Nearly 100,000 children who received six vaccines in the first year of life but no MMR vaccine had a rate of 48.6 autistic children per 100,000. Over 400,000 children received the same six vaccines in the first year of life plus the MMR vaccine at 15 months of age and their rate of autism was 61 per 100,000. In Japan, the MMR vaccine was removed from the market, the autism rate fell, the MMR vaccine was then reintroduced as 3 separate vaccines given close together in time, and the autism rate then reversed and climbed once again. Both of these good studies have received "white-washed" attention to cover up what the studies really proved. More details may be found at: http://vaclib.org/basic/mmr-errors.htm

Feb. 13 2009 01:38 PM
dannah chaifetz

i know many children who are vaccine injured and alhtough of course the drug companies pump the media with misinformation so that they can profit- it is always much worse to see someone bright and articulate that is not directly affiliated get sucked into the deception - unless there is more to that then tmeets the eye.

Feb. 13 2009 12:39 PM
Charles from Jersey

Larry and Gerald: Thank you for adding a helpful new way of looking at this, namely that autistics would find needles at least as traumatizing as other children, and that autism appears at a similar time that innoculation is done, as required for school.

These points address the unasked question, How could these parents have made the connection in the first place if it's not real?

Other answers to that question can be found here:
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2710/did-mercury-in-vaccines-cause-autism
including how Robert Kennedy Jr. misrepresented a scientist's proclamation.

You have to be willing to detach your ego from a cause when it's been debunked. As the guest pointed out, it's dangerous not just to the child not to be immunized but also to the community at large.

Feb. 13 2009 12:35 PM
sue from NYC

Wanted to call in, but the show ran out of time. I am the mom of a child who's mildly/"high functioning" autistic. I am convinced--IN HIS CASE--that the MMR vaccine had nothing to do with his autism. However, anyone who knows anything about autism knows that it's one of the broadest spectrums there is. Most scientists/doctors who know aobut the subject would agree that autism is not really one condition, but a whole lot of different conditions that get lumped together because of similarities. Did the court, or the reporter, consider the idea that perhaps some types of autism may be stimulated or aggravated by the vaccine? The first step in all of this is to figure out more about autism and break it down into more accurate diagnoses.

-

Feb. 13 2009 11:56 AM
patty from soho

For a great book on autism from a cross-cultural and historical perspective, see Richard Grinker's Unstrange Minds, Remapping the World of Autism (A Father, A Daughter, and a Search for New Answers). He is an anthropologist with an autistic daughter. It is beautifully written, highly informative, and makes one realize a diagnosis of autism is not the end of the world for parent or child and much more.

Feb. 13 2009 11:47 AM
Bill from New York

A post was deleted and I became #22. I was addressing #21, of course.

Feb. 13 2009 11:41 AM
Anne-Marie McIntyre from hastings on hudson

This reminds me of the breast cancer victims from Longisland who were desperate to find an enviromental reason for their "Cluster" of breast cancer. There was similar anger when the science was unable to back up the many anecdotal claims of the community.
We have since found out about the link between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer, very possibly explaining the uptick of breast cancer in these communities and advancing how we understand the disease.
We need to find out so much about Autism. The answers are out there, but the vaccine theory needs to be relinquished and parents of these children need to spend there energy (which I applaud)looking down other avenues and continue to push for productive scientific research on this subject.

Feb. 13 2009 11:41 AM
plk from nyc

continued commentary:

Dr. Sears' The Vaccine Book is quite a good resource. It is pro- vaccination, but also measured. Many other resources, particularly those on-line are very alarmist. That said, I used the Sears book as a primary resource and despite its positive attitude towards vaccines, when combined with other research, still decided against most vaccinations and to hold off others for as long as possible (though certain vaccines can cause other problems if given late in life).

The interesting thing for me here is not the autism link or lack of it, but many of the other side effects, the power of the pharmaceutical lobby, the class-race-gender issues associated with vaccines, the power of the state vs. parental control and more. While I do feel some social responsibility to vaccinate for certain illnesses (how wonderful to have eradicated polio here in the US) and because I work and travel in the developing world may change my mind on some vaccines, there are many other issues besides to be considered when making your choices or when discussing vaccines more generally.

Feb. 13 2009 11:40 AM
plk from nyc

While I don't quite buy the link between autism and vaccines (it is my understanding that much of the "rise" in autism is in part attributable to the new ways of diagnosing autism and a broadening of the definition to autism spectrum disorder). That said, I will likely not be vaccinating my child with most of the APA's recommended vaccines (I am 8 months pregnant, a professor and researcher, and have given this a good deal of thought and research) and have something of a different and much reduced schedule than the APA's. This is so for a variety of reasons (flu vaccine - unnecessary; Hep B on the first day of birth when a newborn's immune system is not well developed? why? I didn't get Hep B vaccines (they are a trio) until I began to have sex and travel internationally to the developing world; HIB - twenty five cases a year; HPV - sexist and classist and only prevents a few strains of the virus that cause cervical cancer. Men spread this too, yet the vaccine is not for them nor tested on them. Why? Better put the money into pap smears and preventative health care for all women, including the poorest. MMR - why give them all at once? Because it is convenient. These can easily be separated and therefore not inundate a young immune system...and so on).
Given that I have a long maternity leave, will be breastfeeding for as long as possible (1-2 years - it's not just the initial colostrum that builds the immune system but continued breastfeeding) and the child will not be in daycare, there is much less reason to worry about exposure to many of these illnesses. Of course, this is a class issue too - many parents cannot afford to stay home with their children and some of the "pros" given for vaccinating in the literature include ease of scheduling and not having to miss work, which says a great deal about our culture, inequality, and the place of children in it.

Feb. 13 2009 11:40 AM
Phil Henshaw from New York

High level scientific discussions like this are indeed hard for the general public to understand. The problem is that there isn't much difference between wishful thinking, and magical thinking. The trap is how it invites you to invest all your resources in what is really just a dead end.

The economic collapse provides a good example. We don’t know, but we *wish* the earth was infinite, and then make ever multiplying bets on it, hoping to never be proved wrong. That is, though, what makes it real magical thinking, leaving us totally unprepared for responding to what was obviously coming.

The solution? I think it would be for scientists to begin being a bit more open about the their own wishful and magical thinking, like the belief that natural systems follow our formulas rather than our formulas only very roughly following nature. The whole language of science is quite confused by that easy but misleading wish.

Feb. 13 2009 11:37 AM
Bill from New York

Yes, #22, but the flipside of your argument is that the lack of scientific conclusiveness is not proof of a competing theory based on fallacy and anecdote.

Feb. 13 2009 11:36 AM
tom from upstate ny

Many people interpret a lack of sceintific evidence for something as proof that it does not exist. But this is simply prejudice. While science is intended as mankind's best attempt to remove prejudice, it is in the end still a fallible human institution, and as any student of intellectual history will know, any scientific result is ultimately subject, to some degree, to whatever assumptions were brought to it.

Feb. 13 2009 11:32 AM
Bill from New York

Sorry, that last caller had a point. One can be sensitive to the concerns of the parents of autistic children, but the more currency the vaccination myth is given the more these parents will seize on it as some kind of "explanation" and thus as an object of blame, and the more such misinformation stands actually to jeopardize the real benefits effected by vaccination--benefits enjoyed by their autistic children, btw. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Look it up.

And Karen, whatever argument your author is making it's a scientific argument. The so-called mainstream doesn't work by different rules than anyone else.

Feb. 13 2009 11:31 AM
Erin from Astoria

I realize that this is an emotional topic for many people, but there is so much potential damage that can be done by not vaccinating children. Measles cases are actually rising in Europe and the US - sickening and killing children - because of this myth.

As if there were not enough proof already (from numerous epidemiological studies, etc.) the "science" behind the vaccine-autism link has recently been shown to be faulty (or even fraudulent). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5683671.ece

I have so much sympathy for people with autism, and parents of children with autism - however, vaccines have been shown not to be the cause. I highly recommend Autism's False Prophets by Paul Offit, a book that discusses the autism-vaccine myth in depth, from a scientific perspective.

Feb. 13 2009 11:27 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I disagree with the current caller who is saying that this should be based on scientific evidence and left to scientists, not the courts. Why? Exactly because of the heightened emotions of the parents. They can't be rational about this and we oughtn't expect them to be.

On the other hand, they shouldn't be dictating the conversation. Too much due to our overly litigious society. Something bad happens? Sue.

Feb. 13 2009 11:26 AM
Larry from Queens

I think there is a terminology clarification in order. Yes, there is a "link" between vaccines and appearance of symptoms of autism in the naturally biased observations of parents. What the court is stating is that there is no CAUSAL link between them. That is, the link is COINCIDENTAL... these things may occur close together in time but there's no cause of one to the other. In many instances, there is evidence of autistic symptoms before the vaccination. Scientific method was developed so that we would not rely on our own tendencies to see cause in correlation.

Feb. 13 2009 11:26 AM
Lance from Manhattan

MMR (and other vaccines) are usually administered according to a specific schedule -- most kids get vaccinated at a particular age. Perhaps that may account for the coincidence.

Feb. 13 2009 11:25 AM
Gerald Fnord from Boston, Ma.

Darius: when my parents were growing up (1920s and '30s, Baltic Europe and America) it was just accepted as normal that they would lose one or a few classmates to childhood diseases every year. This is the toll the anti-vaccinators seem to ignore.

We, on the other hand, should be careful not to be arrogant: it is deeply disturbing for parents to have an autistic child, and the legacy of blaming them (even though this is no longer fashionable) may make them particularly prone to look for external agents. And statistics don't lie (if presented fairly), but for every incidence the rate for the people involved is 100%....

So I think we need to retain clear-eyed, clear-headed, analysis of the situation when formulating public policy, whilst still maintaining rachmones for those who believe that they have been injured thereby.

Perhaps we will establish a clear link between some well-defined subset of infants' having (or moving into, as per my last comment) autism...we may decide to still promote vaccination for the greater good, but to make sure that we do establish funds for the security and development of those whom it has injured (much as we should allow a moderately free market to flourish for our greater prosperity, whilst providing for the inevitable losers at that particular game).

Feb. 13 2009 11:25 AM
justsmythe from ads

problem is that after 8 years of bush science we don't trust science. global warming isn't caused by man? fda is protecting us? maybe but still, beware.

Feb. 13 2009 11:25 AM
Mark from Brooklyn

@Edward

I'm a skeptic on this too, but folks should know that the Times UK piece was highly suspect. The reporter was involved in a court case against the doctor, and all parties have retracted claims.

Feb. 13 2009 11:25 AM
tom from upstate ny

While an individual sensitivity to a given vaccination may not be detectible by satistical methods, it would have great significance to the child and family affected.

Feb. 13 2009 11:24 AM
alysia from brooklyn

my son was diagnosed with ASD at 15 mos. but we saw signs of autism as early as 2 mos -- long before the vaccines. I don't see any connection. I just think we parents in search of reasons, in search of a diagnosis with such a little known disorder.. look for a reason and crave something concrete to explain our children's conditions.

Feb. 13 2009 11:23 AM
Lance from Manhattan

Leonard Lopate has said that his child was diagnosed with autism. On a show not too long ago, Leonard strongly challenged a guest who had been arguing that studies have not supported any link. I wonder how he is taking this news.

Feb. 13 2009 11:23 AM
Dave from Amsterdam, The Netherlands

See http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4055 for another discussion about this subject.

Feb. 13 2009 11:23 AM
Karen from Westchester

There IS cause for concern.
Mainstream science: if you can't prove it in a laboratory, then it ain't so, so to speak. Mainstream medicine has been designed to argue away challenges to its power, to the status quo since the late nineteenth century. See Harris Coulter's work for facts about vaccines you won't hear from the gov't or from mainstream medicine. Diseases go underground, from acute to chronic. This is our literally sickly society, living longer with chronic diseases.

Feb. 13 2009 11:23 AM
Bill from UpperWest Side

The anti-scientific prejudice, aggravated by hyper-protective parenting is appalling. As the writer above mentioned, this is no better than global warming denial, or evolution denial.

Feb. 13 2009 11:22 AM
tom from upstate ny

If one individual in 10,000 is profoundly susceptible to damage from a vaccination, this would be buried by statistical averaging.

Feb. 13 2009 11:22 AM
Edward from NJ

MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5683671.ece

Feb. 13 2009 11:19 AM
JT from LI

My wife and I were concerned about vaccines when we had a child. The more research I did the more we became convinced that vaccines had little or nothing to do with autism.

I found it interesting that viewing the home movies of children with autism showed that the signs of autism were visible well before they got the vaccines.

Feb. 13 2009 11:17 AM
Edward from NJ

Why isn't this story reported like Global Warming denial? In both cases people insist, contrary to virtually all scientific, that something is so.

Feb. 13 2009 11:16 AM
Gerald Fnord from Boston, Ma.

These parents say that they see a change in their children after the latter after vaccination, and they then seem autistic.

I prefer to believe what parents say, but I also understand the long-term statistics, so here's a possibility: what if the _experience_ of being vaccinated---bad smells, bright surfaces, being touched by strangers, being poked by needles, the normal reactions to caccines aftwerward---helps to push a crypto-autistic infant into presenting the symptoms he (usually) would have shown anyway. This would make no change in the retrospective studies of who is autistic, or in the issue of culpability, since if not then, then another stimulus would have come along---it does suggest that we look carefully at our children after any jarring event.

(I'm on this spectrum, and I know that unpleasant, external, stimuli can bring on an attack in which I'm unable to do my usual 'human' act well enough to pass---even mild illness can do that as well....)

Feb. 13 2009 11:14 AM
Darius from Prospect Heights

People who campaign against vaccines seem to have forgotten what a medical breakthrough they were in the first place. Certainly, there are risks but less than that of not having a vaccine for a fatal disease. How long have we been able to even TEST for autism? So obviously there are more cases now than 30 years ago if we didn't know what it was. People are certainly welcome to abstain but the court just upheld what has long been proven.

Feb. 13 2009 10:17 AM

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