Posts Tagged ‘epidemic’

CNN Gets It Right With Article on Vaccines and Autism

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

The state of science reporting and science journalism is pretty dismal. And in the past few years, there have been few better examples of this than the reporting on the Vaccine/Autism “debate”.

Vaccines DO NOT cause autism. This has been known in the scientific community for a long time, and I’ve blogged about it before. But every so often a story will come up in the news which gives equal representation to the scientists who know vaccines are safe, and the quacks and conspiracy theorists who believe they are evil.

But CNN actually impressed me yesterday. They reprinted an article which was originally posted on concerning the vaccine/autism debate.

The article gave a clear history of the issue, reviewed the scientific evidence and gave a sound conclusion: that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism.

My only problem with the article is the title: “The End of the Autism/Vaccine Debate?” I’m not a big fan of that question mark. If you are going to do an article which debunks the whole “vaccines cause autism” notion, you may as well make that clear in the title. You will still garner lots of attention, and your position will be made clear from the get-go.

But thats me being nit-picky. The article is good, and the fact that it got reprinted on CNN is a step in the right direction. With cases of whooping cough on the rise in the United States and the proliferation of misinformation by the anti-vaccine movement, we need more articles like this to get public attention.

You Can Save a Child’s Life Just by Reading This!

June 29, 2010 3 comments

I’m mad. I mean I’m really really REALLY mad!

The anti-vaccine movement has been gaining strength in recent years. This will result in the deaths of young children and infants.

It is already happening.

An epidemic of Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is currently in progress in California. Pertussis is a disease preventable through vaccination. Even though the vaccine is not 100% effective, when enough people get vaccinated the incidence of the disease declines.

Unfortunately, vaccination rates in California have been dropping for several years. We are seeing the largest outbreak of Pertussis in California in over 50 years.

5 infants under 3 months of age have already died.

Why is this happening? Well, in 1998 a British man named Andrew Wakefield was developing an alternative to the Mumps-Measles-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. So, with funding from a law firm (which was suing the current manufacturer of the MMR vaccine), Wakefield performed a study.

He paid 12 children who were attending his child’s birthday party £5 to take a blood sample from them (yes, at the party). He then used these samples to draw a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism spectrum disorders.

This study was poor, the data was faked, and the paper was later retracted by the journal in which it was published. Wakefield was then stripped of his medical license. He moved from the UK to the United States.

There, he got himself a foot soldier: Jenny McCarthy.

I sure wouldn’t mind her on MY team…

She went on Oprah and other TV shows shouting to the rafters that vaccines gave her son autism. These claims were not scientifically grounded.

In the years since, the MMR vaccine and others have been studied and re-studied by labs all over the world. The conclusion is unanimous:


But sadly, this is not the end of the story. The anti-vaccine movement has gotten very good at being conspiracy theorists. They think the pharmaceutical companies are all behind these studies. This is false.

They claimed it was Thimerosol, an ingredient in the MMR vaccine. Thimerosol was removed, and autism rates have not dropped. They were wrong.

They are extremely proficient at using the ad hominem fallacy by personally attacking those who are trying to get the truth out there. Their attacks are pathetic, ungrounded, and often flat out lies.

They use straw man arguments to attempt to discredit the studies done by real scientists. This is a tactic used by other pseudoscience proponents like those who believe in Sasquatch, Astrology, and Homeopathy. It is misleading and horrible that they would do this.

Let me make this perfectly clear. WE are the good guys. The science guys. The ones who know that vaccines work. WE are the ones trying to save children’s lives.

We are losing.

But we will continue to fight. We will continue to spread our message and save as many children as we can.

You can help. You can read the literature, you can spread the word. You can also go out and get your booster shots. As a population, we can completely eliminate Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and many others. It is possible.

We just need YOUR help.