Monday, February 16, 2015
Thomas Sowell took on the
"anti-vaxxers" in a recent column, spending more than a few words on the
discredited claim that vaccines cause autism:
Fortunately, others took the claim seriously in a very different sense. They did massive studies involving half a million children in Denmark and two million children in Sweden. These studies showed that there was no higher incidence of autism among children who had been vaccinated than among children who had not been vaccinated.On top of that:
Incidentally, the "evidence" on which the original claim that vaccines caused autism was based was just 12 children. But the campaign to convince the public was a masterpiece of propaganda.
This was not the only false claim involved. What made that claim seem plausible was a highly publicized increase in the number of children diagnosed as being autistic or being "on the autism spectrum."If there is anything remotely credible about the anti-vaccination movement, it is the claim that the measles vaccine (or an additive) is linked to autism. This is likely to look credible to someone who isn't aware that the original claim was found to be fraudulent (and retracted) and that the recent rise in autism diagnoses was an artefact.
What was not so widely publicized was that the definition of "autism" had expanded over the years to include children who would never have been called autistic by the standards set up when autism was defined by its discoverer, Professor Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins medical school, back in 1943.
Despite headlines and hysteria about skyrocketing numbers of children diagnosed as autistic, the number of children who meet the original definition of autism has been relatively stable in recent years, at about one quarter of one percent of all children...
While there are many people out there shopping for a conspiracy theory to live by, there are many more who are open to reason. The latter will likely make the right decision regarding vaccination if they have all the relevant facts at their disposal. If you know someone struggling with this decision, you should do them and their children a favor by informing them of this article.