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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Editorial Boards v. Anti-Vaxxers

 In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.

Outbreaks of preventable diseases have given editorial boards an opening to debunk the autism-vaccine notion.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
People opt out of vaccinations for various reasons. Some, like President Donald Trump, fear vaccines cause autism (they don't, as now-Health and Human Services Secretary Ben Carson tried to explain to Trump during a 2016 campaign debate). Others worry about various ingredients found in some vaccines, like aluminum (none of these are dangerous). Another group protests on religious grounds.
It's tempting to say government shouldn't force people to get vaccines, and that people deserve the freedom to make their own choices about vaccines. But those who forgo vaccinations aren't just making choices for themselves; they're making choices for the vulnerable populations that rely on herd immunity.
Burlington Times-News:
 As it is with other immunizations, rumors and incorrect information about this and many other vaccines have spread across the country, especially on social media. One of the leading misinformed theories is that the vaccines can cause autism. The initial research was found to be fraudulent and subsequent testing has thoroughly debunked the claim. Yet it has taken on a life of its own, gaining adherents and causing outbreaks of illnesses that had nearly been eliminated.
Asheville Citizen-Times:
Even more disturbing are those who base their opposition to immunization on the quack science that has been making the rounds on the Internet. The most noted example is the claim of a link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism.
That claim was made in a 1998 British paper so poorly done that it later was retracted by its publisher. At least 12 follow-up studies have shown no link whatsoever. Nevertheless, a lot of people continue to oppose the MMR vaccine based on the original study.
That is sad, but it shouldn’t be surprising given the growth of anti-science attitudes in our society. The idea of subjecting ideas to rigorous testing is rejected to favor of saying something and assuming it to be true.