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Friday, January 23, 2015

Anti-Science Hits a New Low

I've always said that there is a certain level of anti-science in this country.  It is manifest in several different ways, none the least (on the human impact scale) can be found in the absurd "anti-vaccine" movement that has sprung up, promoted by intellectual giants/health advocates such as Jenny McCarthy.

Anyway, as my friends in Iowa would day, the chickens have come home to roost.

Now a few points to set the stage here:

  • Measles is highly contagious.
  • Measles can be fatal.
  • The vaccine used to prevent measles is highly effective.

Oh, and last but not least, the vaccine used to prevent measles DOES NOT cause autism.

To that last point, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

"Studies conducted in the US and Europe have found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism."

Note the use of the word "No".

I can fully appreciate the frustrations that must be experienced by parents of autistic children.  However, in a search for answers, we have to remember that causality can be created in all manner of ways, but that doesn't equal evidence.  For example...

How many people who end up in car accidents have had water to drink immediately before getting into their car?  Well if that's a high number, wouldn't then drinking water potentially be a cause of car accidents?

...which is, of course, untrue.  But yet that's how these kinds of urban legend, pseudo-science things are propagated.  Real science in involves large studies that include such things as control groups, repeatability of results and the peer review of findings.  I get that none of this provides the simple and quick answers that some in our society today crave, but that's the price we have to pay for learning the truth.

All of this makes for an interesting intellectual debate, but it's also important to remember that there are human costs in all of this, namely outbreaks of diseases which shouldn't ever happen.

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