Debunking the vaccination-causes-autism myth

02.02.10

The study that had initially claimed a link between childhood vaccination and autism and had long since been essentially debunked as having no supporting evidence, has been formally retracted by the Lancet:

The Lancet published the controversial paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues in 1998. British parents abandoned the vaccine in droves, leading to a resurgence of measles. Subsequent studies found no proof the vaccine is connected to autism.

Ten of the study’s 13 authors renounced the study’s conclusions, and The Lancet has previously said it should never have published the research. “We fully retract this paper from the published record,” its editors said in a statement on Tuesday.

Predictably, the Jenny McCarthy conspiracy theorists are dismissing this as a… you guessed it… conspiracy theory.

But, crackpots aside, hopefully this will finally parents who just want what’s best for their kids that getting them vaccinated against disease is the responsible thing to do.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Mario Parise 02.05.10 at 3:46 PM

I think the big challenge is knowing who to trust. As a parent, I don’t simply entrust the well-being of my children to strangers. In fact, I naturally distrust people in this regard. (In all other facets of life, I’m not this paranoid. But it’s my kids and I want what’s best for them.)

With medical issues, I’m always conflicted. On the one hand, I certainly don’t have the expertise to know what’s right for my kids. What do I know about measles? Nothing. What do I know about Autism? Nothing. So the only option is to trust the doctor, right?

Except doctors never agree. Pick your doctor, pick your diagnosis. Add to that the political nature of rapid and large scale issues such as H1N1 vaccination and I’m back to square one: trusting no one.

I’m certainly not going to trust the Jenny McCarthy’s of the world. But I’m also not going to trust vague public service ads paid for by political institutions I don’t believe in.

Given all of this, I just do what the doctor says. I’m not convinced they’re right, but I know I’m gonna regret not listening if they are. So the kids get vaccinated.

But I empathize with parents who don’t want to do it. It’s not a black and white matter. As much as we can label these concerns as conspiracy theories, I see no reason to trust someone simply because they’re from the government. If anything, that association makes me distrust them. Since when have governments ever operated in the best interests of people?

I think it comes down to rejecting simplistic notions of right or wrong, and doing the hard work of weighing the information for yourself. Blindly trusting authority figures is always a bad idea.

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