Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Defending Vaccinations

It's good to see a backlash developing against the anti-vaccine people. The idea that vaccines cause autism tends to attract people on the far left and far right. This means I've known people who I really like and respect spew bullshit about vaccinations. Not only is there no scientific evidence that I know of that backs up this decision, but not getting vaccinations exposes your child to disease and, even worse, exposes other children. I have little tolerance for quack science whether its phrenology, eugenics, unregulated frontal lobotomies, or anti-vaccination theories. While science always exists on an unstable foundation that changes over time and is influenced by current events, we ultimately have to buy into the scientific method on issues like medicine. Perhaps the connections between vaccinations and autism should be looked into, but until there is strong experimental evidence suggesting a link, the only responsible thing to do is to keep our kids and our society safe from preventable illness.

Moreover, it really bugs me that people who have no clue about medicine are making these decisions based upon something their friends have told them or something they read online. Even more shocking is how rapid these people are. Paul Offit, author of Autism's False Prophets, exposing these nutters, can't do a book tour because of the death threats he faces. What is it about this issue that brings the extremists out of the woodwork?