Using the anchor of critical thought to examine our world

The false idea that vaccines cause autism is so awfully rampant across Pennsylvania, the U.S. and across a good bit of modern society.

Dr. David Gorski at Science-Based Medicine has an excellent explanation of why this totally debunked idea is still so entrenched and pervasive in our culture.  He says:

The hypothesis that vaccines cause autism has been about as thoroughly falsified through research as any health hypothesis can be.

That sort of claim is verifiable with sound evidence. Antivaxxer claims can be made up out of whole cloth. Evidence? Well, that’s secondary to the knee-jerk reaction of fear that comes with a potential threat to your child. Consider this…

Anti-vaxxer first claimed that the vaccine preservative thimerosal, which contained a form of mercury and was used in several childhood vaccines, was poison and triggered autism. At the end of 2001, thimerosal was removed from almost all vaccines. Did the rates of autism decline? It was an excellent way to see if, indeed, thimersol was the culpret.  Gorski notes:

Basically, if thimerosal-containing vaccines were a cause of autism, we would have expected to see a decrease in autism prevalence beginning three to five years after the removal of thimerosal. Epidemiological studies have failed to find such a decline and have also failed to find evidence of correlation. […] thimerosal exposure in children fell almost overnight to levels lower than the 1980s, which was before the beginning of the “autism epidemic.” At the very least, one would expect autism rates to fall back to 1980s levels if thimerosal in vaccines were a driving force behind this “epidemic.” They haven’t. Quite the contrary, they’ve continued to climb.

Rather than give up the idea they had so much invested in, antivaxxers went another route. And, another. At this point, their hypothesis are ridiculous and unsustainable. Yet, the belief persists. 

Antivaxxers perhaps have childrens’ best interest at heart but that does not make them correct. They are dead wrong. They capitalize on other parents concerns. It’s sneaky and effective but dead wrong. They point to a source of “bad”, they want one smoking gun, they want a straightforward target to attack. But the world is not so simple. Autism looks to be a complex situation of conditions, diagnosis and causes. We just don’t know yet how to pinpoint and stop the autism epidemic. However, we ought to be happy that vaccines are clearly NOT the cause. There is something else. Put aside irrational fears, get your children vaccinated, and spread the word that autism is not related to vaccines. Don’t be dead wrong.

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